PIL challenges execution of death sentence by hanging

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New Delhi: A PIL filed in the Supreme Court challenges the execution of death sentence by hanging, as the petitioner describes it as barbaric, inhuman and cruel as well as violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

PIL petitioner advocate Rishi Malhotra has challenged the validity of the Section 354(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which says that “when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.

Accordig to the petitioner advocate, the Section 354(5) of the Cr.PC is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees right to life with dignity till natural end of the life.

Saying that the execution of death sentence by hanging was discriminatory and violative of Article 21, the petitioner has contended that the right to life with dignity also implied a dignified procedure for death.

He has referred to an earlier judgment of the top court which says: “The act of the execution should be as quick and as simple as possible and free from anything that unnecessarily sharpens the poignancy of the prisoner’s apprehension, should produce immediate unconsciousness passing quickly into the death, should be decent and not involve any mutilation.”

Referring to the procedure as laid down in the Punjab and Haryana Jail Manual, the PIL said that the entire procedure was painful and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

The advocate has referred to an earlier Law Commission’s report to buttress his position that the execution of death sentence by hanging was painful, brutal and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

The petitioner has referred to the Army Act, Air Force Act and the Navy Act, under which court martial authority had the discretion to order death by shooting, thereby suggesting that under the law, there were other ways of putting a death row convict to sleep.

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