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7th May 2022 (7 Topics)

A new track for capital punishment jurisprudence

Supreme Court while dealing with appeals against the death sentence is examining sentencing methodology from the perspective of mitigating circumstances more closely. It will not only reaffirm the rarest of rare principle but also lead to a new wave of thinking in the jurisprudence around capital punishment.


Sentencing lapses 

  • Confirmation:Capital punishment once delivered by the court of sessions is required under law, specifically Chapter 28 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to be confirmed by the jurisdictional High Court.
  • Finding Alternatives:Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980) case calls for balancing mitigating and aggravating circumstances and laid down the principle that the death penalty ought not to be awarded unless the alternative of life imprisonment is “unquestionably foreclosed”.
  • Laxity in Sentencing:A report by the NLU Delhi’s Project 39A found that there is no judicial uniformity or consistency when it comes to awarding the death sentence. The judges have personalised, subjective, and divergent explanations of the rarest of rare cases. The courts have been lax in assessing the aspect of reformation while undertaking the sentencing exercise.
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