Death Penalty Abolition Debate

Mercy petition


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Power of the President to pardon under Article 72

Mains level : Paper 2- Delay in carrying out death penalty and issues associated with it

The article highlights the issue of delay in carrying out the dealth penalty and issues associated with it.

Review of India’s position on the death penalty

  • The delay in carrying out the death penalty is one of the reasons to review India’s position on capital punishment.
  • The debate on the efficacy of the death penalty in reducing crime has been going on for several decades.
  • A few years ago, the issue of abolishing capital punishment was raised in the Rajya Sabha but was rejected by a voice vote.
  • The then Minister of State for Home Affairs stated that the government was not contemplating abolition of the death penalty.
  • In 2015, the Law Commission of India proposed abolishing the death penalty and sought the comments of States and Union Territories on the subject.
  • India figures among the 56 nations in the world that have retained the death penalty.

Issue of delay in carrying out the punishment

  • The prolonged detention of death row convicts in prison is not just inhuman but also against the canons of justice.
  • The delay coupled with long years of solitary confinement leads to immense psychological trauma.
  • It is small wonder that the courts tend to take a lenient view and reduce the sentence when such cases of prolonged years of detention come before them.
  • A time frame needs to be fixed for the President to dispose of mercy petitions.
  •  Delays in investigations, court hearings, and administrative steps to be taken after the final verdict need to be inquired into, and responsibility fixed.

Consider the question “Against the backdrop of delay in carrying out the dealth penalty in India, take the review of India’s position on the abolition of death penalty.”


With the changing time, we must change and so do the way we punish people. Capital punishment should be abolished in the country and until then, the inordinate delays in carrying out punishment should be avoided.

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