500+ Words Essay on Capital Punishment
For justice to prevail, it is essential to incorporate capital punishment. An eye for an eye is one of the oldest forms of justice. Capital punishment is the legal death penalty given to a person by judicial process as a punishment for an offence. It is named capital punishment because capita means the head, hence a punishment involving the loss of head. Methods of execution are electrocution, hanging, shooting, lethal gas or injections.
Origin of Capital Punishment
Going back to the eighteen century. B.C. in the code of King Hammurabi of Babylon, which codified the death penalty for twenty-five different crimes. The death sentence was carried out by drowning, crucifixion, beating to death, burning alive, impalement etc. The Jews also adopted techniques including stoning, hanging and beheading.
The Greek philosopher Socrates was told to drink poison for heresy and corruption of youth. The Romans has a unique way of punishing the person who killed their parents. The suspect was submersed in water in a sack which also contained a dog, a viper or an ape.
Types of Capital Punishment
Types of Capital Punishment in different countries from ancient to modern times are as follows:
In China, slow slicing method was followed. In this form of execution, the person who has committed crime is killed by using a knife to remove portions of the body over a period of time. It was a kind of torture, and the condemned were sometimes given opium to prevent from fainting or as an act of mercy. This was banned in 1905.
Ancient Persia method of execution included suffocating the person in the tower or room filled with ash. Wheels were constantly turned, making the ash whirl around, and the person dies by gradual suffocation due to the intake of ash through inhalation.
Decapitation was a common form of punishment in Japan. Samurai was appointed to decapitate the offenders. Once the victim’s abdomen was cut open, another warrior would strike his head off from behind to reduce the suffering.
Blowing from a canon was practised by Britain. The victim is tied to the mouth of the canon, and then it was fired. Not only British but Mughals, Ottoman Turks, and Sumatra followed this method. It continued until 1930.
Stoning is the most common and widespread method which is prevalent even today. It was used for adultery. Nazi Germany used gas chamber punishment. Nazi targeted Romans, homosexuals, physically and mentally disabled, clergy and intellectuals. The preferred gas was carbon-monoxide, and it could kill millions of people.
Crushing through elephants or by placing heavy stones on the chest was another gruesome death punishment which was carried out for over four thousand years in Southeast Asia. This form of penalty is no longer sanctioned by any government body.
Hanging is a common form of punishment, followed by every country. The person is hanged till death through a noose. Also, the criminal’s eyes are covered, and the hands are tied behind the back. In India, all capital punishment is implemented by hanging.
The United States is the country who exercise capital punishment through electrocution in 2013. A person is tied to an electric chair and is subjected to heavy electric charge. The U.S. again in the state of Nevada, adopted the lethal gas penalty as an effort to provide a humane way of capital punishment.
Lethal injection is also a type of punishment given by mixing two, or more fatal chemicals were given to prisoners and criminals. Again it was widely used by the U.S. state of Oklahoma in 1977 because it was cheaper than electrocution and lethal gas.
Capital Punishment Laws in India
As stated above, this punishment is reserved for the rarest of rare cases. It is only awarded under one of the following conditions:*
- In case of committing or abetting a capital offence(such as treason or murder)
- Declaring war against the Indian Government
- Abetting or engaging in a mutiny within the armed forces
- Giving or fabricating false evidence with an intent to procure the conviction of a capital offence
- Abetting the suicide of a minor
- Aiding or abetting an act of Sati
- Drug trafficking (repeat offenders)
- Rape of a child under 12 years of age
- Dacoity with murder
- Rape which leads to the incapacitation of the victim, their death or
- Sale of poisoned alcohol (for Gujarat only)
Thus, India has the given laws for awarding death penalty. However, the proceedings which lead to this sentence are not rushed or fast. The time taken to award this sentence seems everlasting and aeonian. Justice delayed is justice denied. This is the frequent complaint of the people against the Indian Judicial system.
Examples of Capital Punishment in India
This punishment has been awarded rarely in our system. As of 2017, there have been 371 cases where the death row has been awarded. However, only 4 out of these have been hanged. Out of these, one had been convicted of rape, and the other three were involved in terrorism.
The biggest reason for the commutation of the death penalty into a more clement life sentence is the delay in the trial, sentence and result of the mercy petition. Thus, serious offenders get away with simpler penalties that end after a definite period whence they can begin their lives again.
This comes as a serious injustice against the victims who have suffered due to the devilish acts of these accused. The last example of capital punishment was in 2015. Thus, the death penalty makes the convicts, as well as the victims of a crime, suffer for extended periods when justice in such cases should be dispensed as soon as possible.
The President of India, borrowing from the Government of India Act 1935, has the power to reprieve and grant pardon in cases where the convict who has been sentenced to death by the apex court appeals against the verdict. This is the convict’s last straw.
If the President does not grant a pardon or commute the sentence, the sentence shall be followed through, and no mercy shall be shown to the convict.
This, however, is a tricky power. The President of India cannot decide their opinion in a day. The President deliberates with the Council Of Ministers and considers their advice before he/she can conclude. Also, there is no fixed time to deliver the verdict on a mercy petition.
Thus, in many cases, the convicts are left waiting for more years than the number fixed for life imprisonment, and even then they don’t get the result. The wait is excruciating, and people keep imploring for justice.
However, in many cases, this wait has become the grounds for commuting the death sentence to a life term. Thus, the convicts get to skip the death penalty altogether.
Article 72 of the Indian Constitution, which grants the President the power to grant pardons and reprieves has been the reason for the delay in justice for a very long time. It is not easy for a person of executive power to decide whether a death row inmate should be pardoned or not.
Hence, the deliberations are long and tedious. The article does not state a fixed time limit for the reply to this petition; however, the Supreme Court has tried its best to expedite the proceedings of such cases. It is not fair on the inmates to suffer in expectancy for an unstated amount of time.
Controlling crime in the modern day has become challenging and laborious. The influence of cinema over the young generation plays a vital role in shaping their character. The violence portrayed in the movies cast an evil spell on the youth, thus corrupting their minds. They emulate and display the actors of the film and create a conviction that the normal life is similar to the cinemas.
Furthermore, this has created a spurt in cases of terrorism. Therefore, it is mandatory to curb such acts and people who engage in such atrocities. The most effective way to eliminate such rogue elements is to make capital punishment robust and foolproof rather than abolish it.
Capital punishment is indeed frightful and inhuman, but it is necessary to deter such people from committing heinous crimes. Just as we remove one rotten fruit from other fruits, there is a need to free society from these undesired people. The lives of innocent people get saved by restricting the movement of criminals. Children, women and the elderly feel secure and safe in the country. Justice served correctly assures citizens to put their trust and confidence in the government.
The argument against capital punishment is that it is irreversible, clean people may die due to wrong judgement. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate facts and evidence supporting crime and criminal behaviour.
The law must ensure the wrong person gets a sentence by careful study. Our legal system includes several steps for trials in the court. Now our laws have become more human than it was centuries ago. Due to this, criminals have taken undue advantage, and the rate of crime is also increasing. Lack of proof against the suspect gives them a leeway to escape and get free. Trials in the court become a mockery.
Many believe that cases involving rape, murder, arson, terrorism require capital punishment so that people who commit such hideous crimes do not roam carefreely. Also, it will create fear among criminals, and they would not resort to criminal acts. However, the rate of crime can reduce through awareness, and if the judicial system becomes more transparent to the people.
Countries like Italy and Holland have seen a spurt in the crime rates the moment the death penalty was abolished. These countries are rethinking on the same. We can conclude from them and understand the need to implement capital punishment in the current scenario. The death sentence needs to be applied whenever necessary for the crimes that are beyond forgiveness.