Capital Punishment Discovering New Perspectives

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Introduction

Plainly speaking, and dispensing with all paraphrases, punishment is nothing but a means of society to defend itself against the infraction of its vital conditions, whatever may be their character.
In the present time, Capital Punishment is one of the most criticized and debated punishment. Jurists are of the view that the death penalty serves an immoral purpose which is “cruel and unusual” punishment.

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The deliberate and conscious action of the state in taking of human life is decadent to human personality. The capital punishment has been practiced over centuries across the globe, we can notice few developments from the late 20th century towards abolition of the death penalty.

However, the major developed countries are still retentionists. In India, after the Bachan Singh case, setting the standard of “rarest of rare case”, making it more just and precise.
The Supreme Court in the Bachan Singh case, had noted that life imprisonment is a rule and death penalty is an exception, which must be awarded only after following certain guidelines considering the fact of cases and the graveness of the culpability and collective conscience of the community.

What question lies here is the constitutionality of the Death Penalty and the effect it has on the society at large and prospective criminals.
For this we need to understand the reason for existence of Death Penalty. Jurists have propounded theories that death penalty acts as a major deterrence to prospective criminals, based on the fear of punishment. In the nature of punishments awarded, death penalty can be stated as the strongest deterrent, because the fear of losing their own life in the minds of potential offenders, deters them to perform such actions. Not only the potential offenders, but also the criminals that are being awarded the Death Penalty, are being deterred by the virtue of incapacitation to perform such acts again.
Also, with death penalty one could save the lives of the prospective victims. Executing one murderer, with a view of protecting the rights of the prospective victims seems to be much reasonable than protecting the life of the murderer by awarding life imprisonment.

Historical Background of Death Penalty

As a matter of fact, Capital punishment is not unknown to us. Capital punishment was a method of severe deterrence in the society back then. Though we know that death penalty existed in oral forms in primitive time period used to punish crimes of murder, theft, arbitrarily used by the king, the death penalty was first written down in the eighteenth century B.C. in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon.
In the later years, European settlers introduced Death Penalty in America. The 1st execution was by Captain Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608.

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