Capital Punishment Current Affairs - 2019
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Malaysia’s Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to abolish death penalty for all crimes and halt pending executions. This decision was taken in pursuance of strong domestic opposition to colonial practice for being barbarous and unimaginably cruel which has put terrible stain on the country’s human rights record. It is also in line with move away from capital punishment in the rest of the world.
Currently capital punishment in Malaysia is mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms, treason and drug trafficking, among other crimes. The death penalty in Malaysia is exclusively carried out by hanging and has been legacy of British colonial rule. More than 1200 people are on death row in Malaysia.
At present, the sentence of death penalty has been abolished in 103 countries, while penalty of capital punishment is still in 56 countries. There are still provisions for capital punishment in countries like China, India, America, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan and Sri Lanka. United Nations General Assembly passed the resolution in 62nd session in 2007 to impose universal restrictions on the death penalty.
Tags: Capital Punishment • Capital punishment by country • Capital punishment for drug trafficking • Crime • Death Penalty • Hanging • Human behavior • International • Law • Malaysia • Penology • Social policy
The Supreme Court has moved away from death penalty (capital punishment) after it commuted the death sentence of a youth for raping and killing a seven-year-old girl with the Special Category of Punishment.
The apex court in its judicial innovation awarded the convict 25 year jail term considering it appropriate punishment between death sentence and life imprisonment in heinous crimes.
What is Special Category of Punishment?
- Special Category of Punishment is judicial innovation that will be veering away from capital punishment. It will be limited to a “very few cases”.
- In this case capital punishment will be shifted to life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years, if not more.
- It was formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case in December 2015.
- It helps “get rid of death penalty” and addresses the genuine concerns of the society to see justice done.
Evolution of Special Category of Punishment
- This special category of Punishment for the first time was mentioned in the Swami Shraddananda versus State of Karnataka judgment of the Supreme Court in 2008.
- Later in 2016, the apex Court had given itself the authority to tweak the sentencing laws and evolve a special category of sentence in its judgment in Union of India versus Sriharan alias Murugan.
- The judicial innovation of the special category of punishment bridges the gap between death sentence (capital punishment) on the extreme and only 14 years of actual life imprisonment on the other.
- It may be considered as endeavour of the Supreme Court to make no party (convict or the society) a loser. Thus, it can be said that with judicial innovation of special category sentence the apex court may have found alternative to capital punishment.