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Report No. 187

Section 163 provides for the form of the sentence of death as:-

"In awarding a sentence of death, a court-martial shall, in its discretion, direct that the offender shall suffer death by being hanged by the neck until he be dead or shall suffer death by being shot to death".

This provides for the discretion of the Court Martial to either provide for the execution of the death sentence by hanging or by being shot to death. This section provides for the procedure and method in which death sentence is to be carried out in accordance with the provisions under the Act. It is important to note that The Air Force Act, 1950 provides for the execution of the death by being "shot to death."

This method though not being prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, is provided in The Air Force Act, 1950 for the execution of the Death sentence. This means that the execution procedure in India also permits the execution of the Death sentence up to certain extent by another method namely by being shot to death. This is with the objective to provide for the easy simple method of the execution in case of the convicted offender of the offences mentioned in the Act.2

It is worth mentioning that unless the punishment is confirmed by the concerned authorities under the Act2 convict will not be executed. The Act provides for the findings and the order to be confirmed by the Central Government or any officer empowered by the same in this behalf2. This provides for the mandatory review of the all the decisions of the Court Martial by the Central Government. This enables the Central Government to scrutinize the irregularity pertaining to the procedure or the finding of the Court Martial.

The Army Act, 1950, The Navy Act 1957 also provide for similar provisions like

The Air Force Act, 1950. The provisions of The Army Act, 1950, The Navy Act 1957 are similar in nature to that of in The Air Force Act, 1950 providing for the option of the execution of the death penalty by being shot at death.4

After referring to these relevant provisions in these Acts inference can be drawn that the method of shooting as one of the methods provided for execution of the death penalty under the Act aims to make it simple and easy to be executed with the weapons and equipments available with these forces. The form of shooting a condemned man necessarily involves less agony as compared to that in the case of the hanging in which there is an elaborate procedure as to weighting, measuring of the height, etc. in order to determine the length of the drop specific restrictions are also put as to wearing certain kinds of apparels, etc.

It may be pointed out here that during the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War executions, the members of the German High Command who were condemned to death opted for the execution of the death sentence by being shot to death as against the method of hanging. They wanted soldiers' death by shooting instead of the degrading death by hanging. This is sufficient to objectively assert that the execution by being shot to death is simpler and less painful to the hanging by neck till death. The practice of this method both in various developing and developed countries is apparently because this method is simple, easy to execute and less painful.

1. Section 34 (a) to (o) of The Air Force Act, 1950.

2. Chapter XII of The Air Force Act, 1950.

3. Section 153 of The Air Force Act, 1950.

4. The provisions relating to awarding the Death penalty in The Army Act, 1950 are enunciated in Chapter VI Section 34 (a) to (l) relates to offences in relation to the enemy and punishable with death, Section 37 deals with Mutiny and provides for the infliction of death sentence in case the accused is convicted. Chapter VII pertains to Punishments awardable by Court Martial, Chapter XII is on Confirmation and Revision, Chapter XIII is on Execution of Sentences, Section 166 deals with form of Sentence of Death. Section 147 of The Navy Act 1957 provides for the Form of Death Sentence.



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