[Answered] Analyze the arguments for and against the abolition of the death penalty in the context of the Indian judicial system. Discuss the implications of retaining the death penalty in the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita.

Introduction: Describe briefly the controversy around the death penalty.

Body: Highlight arguments in favour abolishing of the death penalty.

Conclusion: Way forward

The newly proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) which will replace the IPC, has not made a recommendation to abolish the death penalty & instead will continue with the punishment as it falls under “rarest of rare” cases despite strong opposition from social scientists who contend that the penalty has no deterrent effect and that global opinion was in favour of its abolition.

Arguments in favour of the death penalty

  • Maintaining Deterrence: The fundamental justification offered for the death sentence is the degree of deterrence it maintains in society as people are more likely to refrain from perpetrating the crime from fear of punishment.
  • National Security: The integrity of our system of national security is undermined by certain actions, such as terrorism and fighting the war against the State. Such actions put the nation and its citizens’ very survival in jeopardy.
  • Safety of Citizens: Advocates of the death penalty contend that some criminals—such as those charged with the most heinous crimes are beyond reformation. They don’t express regret or contrition and the person deserves to be executed for the protection of the public.

Arguments in favour of the abolition of the death penalty

  • Mental Stress: Before being put to death, prisoners frequently serve lengthy prison sentences. According to Project 39A’s “Deathworthy” report, mental illness is a result of the isolated, alienated, and stigmatized experiences of spending more time on death row.
  • Irreversible in Nature: Courts frequently award compensation to people who have been wrongfully convicted and have served a significant amount of time in prison as a result of a State error. But no amount of money can make up for the mistake and bring back a person who has been wrongfully hanged.

Implications of Retaining the Death Penalty in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita

  • Stringent safeguards: The recently suggested Bhartiya Dand Samhita needs to provide strong protections against erroneous convictions, enhance the effectiveness of the legal system, and take into account substitute punishments that are consistent with human rights ideals.
  • Transparency: Transparency, equity, and uniformity in the execution of death penalty cases should be the goals of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita. Concerns about the death penalty’s arbitrary or discriminatory application can be allayed with clear guidelines about when it can be applied and with a comprehensive review mechanism.

Conclusion

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita must carefully weigh the needs of society for punishment with the principles of justice and human rights before deciding whether to abolish or keep the death sentence.

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