India seeks alternative execution methods to hanging

But activists say life imprisonment is adequate to regulate society and give criminals an opportunity to mend their ways
India seeks alternative execution methods to hanging

The Supreme Court India on Oct. 6 asked Indian government to find less painful alternatives to hanging as a method of execution. (Photo by IANS) 

The Supreme Court of India has asked the government to find less painful alternatives to hanging, but critics want an end to all executions.

Franklin Caesar Thomas, a Delhi-based lawyer, welcomed the Supreme Court suggestion. 

He noted that many nations have replaced hanging with lethal injection or electrocution.

But Joseph Dias, founder of the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, told that most advanced nations had abolished the death penalty entirely and instead opted for life imprisonment. 

Dias said the death penalty did not prevent crime.

Life imprisonment was adequate to regulate society and gave criminals an opportunity to mend their ways, he added.

The Supreme Court on Oct. 6 noted that a more dignified method of execution was needed as a convict should be allowed to "die in peace and not in pain". 

The court’s finding was in response to a plea filed by lawyer Rishi Malhotra challenging use of the hanging method to carry out death sentences. 

Law in India requires that a condemned person be hanged by the neck until dead.

Since 1995, capital punishment has been carried out only five times in India with the latest occasion being that of Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab. He was executed in November 2012.

Kasab was convicted of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 160 people.

Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged in February 2013 for his involvement in a 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament using automatic weapons in which 14 people died. 

In 2007, India voted against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for an international moratorium on the death penalty. Later, in 2012, India voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution seeking a global ban on capital punishment.

Jagmati Sangwan, founder of the All India Democratic Women's Association, told that the Supreme Court’s request for the finding of alternative methods of execution to hanging is a very positive step.

"The manner of hanging in India is indeed cruel," she said.

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