The Centre on Tuesday defended before the Supreme Court the procedure of death by hanging, saying it was not as “barbaric, inhuman and cruel” as being executed by a lethal injection or by a firing squad, The Hindu reported.

In a counter-affidavit filed in the top court, the government said the lethal injections used in the United States to execute convicts on death row were only “designed to create an appearance of serenity and painless death”. It also warned of possible misuse if the chemical used becomes public knowledge. In case of the firing squad, the government said it would be difficult to find officers from the civilian police force to volunteer.

The Centre made these points in response to a public interest litigation challenging the constitutionality of hanging till death as a mode of execution, as mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Supreme Court lawyer Rishi Malhotra, who filed the plea, has sought alternative methods to execute convicts serving a death penalty and to have declared that convicts have the right to die with dignity, ANI reported.

The government defended death by hanging at a hearing in January, as well. The Supreme Court had earlier held that every human being is entitled to dignity even in death. In a notice to the government, it had asked it to consider the “dynamic progress” made in science to adopt painless methods of execution.