Law panel drafts paper, favours abolition of death penalty

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 28, 2015 17:00 IST
A file photo of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon. (PTI Photo)

The Law Commission is set to recommend abolition of death penalty in India except for terror convicts, media reports said on Friday, a move rights activists say is long overdue in the country.

India is one of 59 countries in the world where capital punishment is still awarded and activists have been demanding its abolition, saying death penalty had no place in civilised society.

The issue had generated intense debate before and after the hanging in July of Yakub Memon, the sole Mumbai blasts convict to be executed.

A 272-page draft report of the Law Commission was in favour of speedy abolition of the death penalty from the statute books, except in cases where the accused is convicted of involvement in a terror case, the Indian Express reported.

The Law Commission had recommended retention of death penalty in 1962.

“The Commission suggests that the death penalty be immediately abolished for all crimes other than terror offences. At the same time, for terror offences a moratorium as regards sentencing and execution be immediately put in place. This moratorium can be reviewed after a reasonable period,” the report quoted the draft as saying.

The panel also hoped that the “movement towards absolute abolition will be swift and irreversible”.

The commission, headed by justice (retd) AP Shah, is likely to submit its report next week to the Supreme Court which had asked the panel to study the issue.

A copy of the report will also be handed over to the Union law minister as any call on changes in penal provisions has to be taken by Parliament.

The panel’s term expires on August 31. According to the report, the commission is of the view that death penalty has not served its intended purpose of acting as a deterrent to crimes or criminals.

“The quest for retribution as a penal justification cannot descend into cries for vengeance,” the draft paper said.

The panel had held wide-ranging discussions with many different sections including political parties.

Former president late APJ Abdul Kalam is among the people who had earlier supported abolishing death penalty while responding to a consultation paper of the Law Commission.

Ahead of Yakub Memon’s hanging after a dramatic late-night rejection of his final mercy, a group of activists had written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking a stay on his execution.

(With inputs from PTI)

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