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Report No. 187

Chapter II

Methods of Execution through ages

Various modes and methods of inflicting death sentence upon the convict as practiced in different societies are examined in this chapter. This study is not exhaustive of all the modes of execution but covers some of the important practices followed.

Since Middle Ages death sentence was the common practice throughout the world and was inflicted in the case of conviction for large number of crimes, including petty offences involving property. In England, during the 18th century, death was the punishment for several specific offences which were about a hundred. The death penalty was executed in various ways. Several methods of execution of death sentences involved torture, burning at the stake, breaking on the wheel, slow strangulation, crushing under elephant's feet, throwing from a cliff, boiling in the oil, stoning to death etc.

With the emergence of various principles relating to fair procedure contained in the Constitutions of several democratic countries and with the strong, growth of human rights movement, such severe death punishments involving torture began to die out since the 18th century. The number of offences punishable by death was also reduced in all leading countries. Also, penalties involving torture disappeared with the idea that punishment by way of death sentence should be swift and humane, whether by guillotine, hanging, the garotte, or the headman's axe. Some of the important practices of death penalty are as follows1

1. The source of the present description is based on the secondary source of data. The Law Commission owes the origin of present information from the various reports of the studies conducted by various Commissions, e.g. the New York Commission of Inquiry, 1888, Royal Commission on Capital Punishment 194.- 1953. The reliance is also placed on newspaper reports, articles books, For more information, please find reference as follows:

(1) Scott Story of Capital Punishment, Oxford University Press (SC Judges Library, classificaation No. 343.253)

(2) The Library of Criminology, Elizabeth Orman Tuttle, London, Stevenes Soursluit, Chicago Querd, Books, 1961

(3) Administration of Death Penalty in U.S. International Commission of Jurists, Report of Mission, June 1996

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