Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Question about validity of death penalty was raised in the 7th Lok Sabha

On August 22, 1984, P. Venkatasubbaiah, Union Minister of State the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the 7th Lok Sabha that the power of the President under article 72 of the Constitution to commute a sentence of death is absolute and unfettered and a decision is taken by the President on the merits of each prisoner’s case. During the three year period ending with August 14, 1984 the President was pleased to commute the death sentences of five condemned prisoners. He was replying to a question from Lakshman Mallick who had asked about the the number of death sentences commuted by the President during the last three years; and the guidelines for commuting the death sentences. 

Lakshman Mallick had asked about the the number of death sentences, during the last three years, state-wise and years-wise, confirmed after the appeal rejected by the Supreme Court. The minister informed that as of August 14, 1982, 1983 and 1984, there were a 3, 31 and 8 prisoners respectively, who were executed or the awaiting execution after rejection of their Mercy Petition. The minister provided State-wise and year-wise, who were executed or are awaiting execution after their mercy petitions were rejected by the President during the same Period after rejection of their appeals by the Supreme Court.

Out of the 3 who faced execution in 1982, one was from Maharashtra and 2 were from Delhi. Out of the 31 prisoners who faced execution in 1983, 2 were from Bihar, 1 from Gujarat, 2 from Haryana, 1 from Karnataka, 2 from Madhya Pradesh, 6 from Maharashtra, 5 from Punjab, 1 from Rajasthan, 6 from Tamil Nadu, 3 from Uttar Pradesh and 2 from Delhi. Out of the 8 prisoners who faced execution in 1984, 1 was from Jammu and Kashmir, 1 from Maharashtra, 4 from Punjab, 1 from Tamil Nadu and 1 from Uttar Pradesh.   

He had also asked whether Government have received any comments from the public or expert lawyers regarding its abolition. The minister replied, "No comments from the public or expert lawyers were received after the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh and others Vs. State of Punjab (AIR 1980 Supreme Court 898) had uphold the validity of the death penalty".

Notably, in Deena v. Union of India (1983), the Supreme Court directed the constitution of a committee of experts to re-examine whether hanging as a method of execution in capital punishment is in line with constitutional standards, 40 years after this method was upheld.    

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