India law commission recommends abolition of death penalty for all non-terrorists

India law commission recommends abolition of death penalty for all non-terrorists

[JURIST] The Law Commission of India [official website] has recommended [report, PDF] that the death penalty be abolished as a mode of punishment for all crimes except terrorism. This is the first time the Commission has addressed the death penalty since 1967, when they recommended the retention of the death penalty in India. The Supreme Court of India [official website] has upheld the death penalty in the past, though they have restricted it to “the rarest of rare cases, to reduce the arbitrariness of the penalty.” In their concluding remarks, the Commission stated that “[t]he death penalty does not serve the penological goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment,” which, in India, truly means imprisonment for the duration of one’s life. Further, in singling out acts of terrorism as those punishable by the death penalty, the Commission noted that there are many concerns that the abolition of the death penalty for these crimes will affect national security. Reasoning that the death penalty diverts attention from other problems infecting the criminal justice system, transforming retribution into vengeance. “The notion of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth has no place in our constitutionally mediated criminal justice system.”

The death penalty has been a controversial issue worldwide. In October UN officials called on the government of Iraq to impose a moratorium [JURIST report] on the death penalty in response to a significant rise in executions since the country restored capital punishment in 2005. Earlier that month UN rights officials called for the international abolition of the death penalty [JURIST report]. In April of this year Amnesty International reported an “alarming rise” [JURIST report] in death sentences around the world in 2014. The advocacy organization said that there has been a 28 percent rise in death sentences from 2013 and that an increased number of countries used capital punishment to deter crime, terrorism and domestic instability.