No viable alternative to hanging, Centre tells court
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There is no viable method at present other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners. Lethal injections are unworkable and often fail, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The government was responding to a query from the court on alternative modes of execution.
The court had previously said a condemned convict should die in peace and not in pain. A human being is entitled to dignity even in death.
Issuing notice, the court had asked the government to consider the the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death.
Additional Solicitor-General Pinky Anand, while seeking more time to file a detailed affidavit, orally submitted that “today, there is no viable method other than hanging.”
Petitioner-in-person and advocate Rishi Malhotra countered that death by lethal injection is practised in several States in the U.S. and even the Law Commission of India had recommended lethal injection.
The court gave the government four weeks to file the affidavit.
Death penalty unquestioned
The court has already clarified that it is not questioning the constitutionality of death penalty, which has been well-settled by the apex court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980. Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging, of the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been upheld.
However, the Bench had, in an earlier hearing, favoured a re-look at the practice of hanging to death as “the Constitution of India is an organic and compassionate document which recognises the sanctity of flexibility of law as situations change with the flux of time”.
The court is hearing a writ petition filed by Delhi High Court lawyer Rishi Malhotra, who sought the court’s intervention to reduce the suffering of condemned prisoners at the time of death. Mr. Malhotra said a convict should not be compelled to suffer at the time of termination of his or her life.
“When a man is hanged to death, his dignity is destroyed,” Mr. Malhotra submitted.