The Law Commission has recommended abolishing the death penalty, except in cases related to terrorism, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. He added that the commission, in its 262nd report in 2015, had argued that capital punishment does not fulfill the goal of deterring crimes.
In the report, the commission had said that it was time for India to move towards abolishing the death penalty immediately for all crimes “other than terrorism-related offences and waging war”. The recommendation was made in the hope that the “movement towards absolute abolition [would] be swift and irreversible”.
Ahir further said that the matter was currently pending with state governments. “As Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure are in the concurrent list...the report has been circulated to all state governments and Union Territories to seek their views,” he explained.
In sharp contrast, the Bihar Assembly last year had passed the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016, which says that mixing poisonous substances with liquor can be punishable by death in cases where it leads to loss of life. In May, the Parliament had notified the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, which allows capital punishment in cases of hijacking that have resulted in the deaths of hostages, security personnel or any person not involved in the offence.
Moreover, in November last year, India had voted against a draft United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. “In India, the death penalty is exercised in the rarest of rare cases, where the crime committed is so heinous that it shocks the conscience of society,” India’s UN representative Mayank Joshi had said, adding that the resolution was aimed at abolishing the death penalty eventually.