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Abolish death penalty swiftly, confirms Law Commission report despite law ministry protests [READ REPORT]

Gallows be gone?
Gallows be gone?

The Indian Express and The Hindu have reported that the draft of the Law Commission report on the death penalty has recommended abolition of the death penalty immediately in all except terrorism cases, while hoping for a “swift and irreversible” “movement towards absolute abolition” of the death penalty.

On Friday the Law Ministry issued a press release that an Indian Express article from the previous day headlined “End death penalty, keep it for terror only: Law Commission", was “a case of incorrect reporting arid does not reflect the final recommendations of the Commission” and that the Law Commission “regards the news report as an interference in its functioning”.

Today is the last day of the term of its chairman AP Shah, a former Delhi high court chief justice, who has presided over an unusually busy and relevant Law Commission in his term.^Read a profile of AP Shah’s Law Commission term.

The Law Commission’s full report, shared by the Indian Express on its website, was addressed to the law minister Sadananda Gowda, dated today (31 August), and concluded:

7.2.2 The march of our own jurisprudence -- from removing the requirement of giving special reasons for imposing life imprisonment instead of death in 1955; to requiring special reasons for imposing the death penalty in 1973; to 1980 when the death penalty was restricted by the Supreme Court to the rarest of rare cases – shows the direction in which we have to head. Informed also by the expanded and deepened contents and horizons of the right to life and strengthened due process requirements in the interactions between the state and the individual, prevailing standards of constitutional morality and human dignity, the Commission feels that time has come for India to move towards abolition of the death penalty.

7.2.3 Although there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes, concern is often raised that abolition of death penalty for terrorism related offences and waging war, will affect national security. However, given the concerns raised by the law makers, the commission does not see any reason to wait any longer to take the first step towards abolition of the death penalty for all offences other than terrorism related offences.

7.2.4 The Commission accordingly recommends that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism related offences and waging war.

7.2.5 The Commission trusts that this Report will contribute to a more rational, principled and informed debate on the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.

7.2.6 Further, the Commission sincerely hopes that the movement towards absolute abolition will be swift and irreversible.

Full draft report on abolition of death penalty via Indian Express

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