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Revisiting death penalty jurisprudence

  • Published
    29th Apr, 2022

On April 22, a Bench of the Supreme Court of India, led by Justice U.U. Lalit, decided to critically examine the routine and abrupt way in which trial judges often impose the death penalty on convicts. The challenge before the Court in the instant case of Irfan vs State of Madhya Pradesh was to identify the mitigating circumstances and to ensure a convict­centric approach so that the imposition of capital punishment becomes rarer, fairer, and principled.

Court’s Viewpoint

  • Individualistic approach- The Court seemed to think that an individualistic approach that examines the social, economic, emotional, and genetic components that constituted the offender rather than the offence, would go a long way in evolving a just and judicious sentencing policy.
  • ‘One size fit for all’ -According to the Court, “a ‘one size fit for all’ approach while considering mitigating factors during sentencing should end”.
  • Mitigation experts -The Bench indicated the need for mitigation experts to assist trial courts in reaching a correct conclusion on whether one should be sent to the gallows or not.
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