Capital punishment by country Current Affairs - 2020

What is “Collective Conscience” invoked by Indian Courts in Death Penalty cases?

Project 39A was conducted by a team of National Law University, Delhi. According to the project, the Indian Courts invoke “Collective Conscience” of the society in most of the death penalty cases.

Project details

The study chose three states and Union Territories namely Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra. These states were chosen as they ranked high in awarding capital punishments

Findings

The study has found out that around between 2000 and 2015, 72% of cases of Delhi trial courts that awarded death penalty has invoked “Collective Conscience”. In Madhya Pradesh, this was invoked in 42% of death penalty cases and in Maharashtra it was invoked in 51% of death penalty cases.

In all these cases, the courts opined that the crime was heinous to shake the “collective conscience” of the society. Thus, the harshest punishment is being sentenced.

Recommendations of Law Commission

The Law Commission in 2015, headed by Justice A P Shah proposed to abolish capital punishments. However, the commission had made the proposal only to non-terrorism cases. According to the commission, India is one among few countries that still carry out executions. The other countries that practice executions include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, China. By the end of 2014, 98 countries had abolished death penalty.

Malaysia to abolish the death penalty for all crimes

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.

Key Facts

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.

Background

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.