Death penalty which also be known as “Capital punishment.” In criminal law though, in ancient time number of ways was present to punish an accused with reference to the nature of his crime against the society. All such punishment was considered on the basis of the nature of criminality presence in an act of the accused. In ancient the Indian epics like; the Mahabharata and the Ramayana were also considered the death penalty which was known as “vadhadand” which meant ‘amputation by bits’ which classified into fourteen modes. While in furtherance of retention of the death penalty, King Dyumatsena1 observed that “if the offenders were leniently let off, crimes were bound to multiply.” In furtherance of his statement he explained that the execution of unwanted criminals was perfectly justified in the existing society. As in same manner the great ancient or eminent law-giver Manu also stated “that in order to refrain the people to indulge in any criminal activity fear as an essential mode for which death penalty was necessary in the society”. He further stated that in absence of this mode of punishment the weaker would not be able to survive in the society. The concept of death penalty was only effective in an ancient period but also has same status in the reign of Mughals rule in India where the death penalty was not in simple manner. Each and every accused person was bound to suffer and also to bear pain till his death. Mode of death penalty by way of nailing the body of the accused on walls was common which was abolished later in the British system of criminal justice. Thereinafter, only the mode of death penalty by way of hanging was remained and which is yet, continuously followed by the Indian criminal justice administration. Being a way to deter offenders, it also enshrined in Section 54 of Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) which mentioned death penalty as a way of punishment to refrain criminals.
Death penalty since ancient time considered as an effective weapon of refraining the people to indulge in any heinous criminal activities which may affect their life or through them in the well of death. Since that period this mode of punishment is also considered as an effective measure of retributive justice. In furtherance of the justification of death penalty it is to be said that this is a lawful measure to punish an offender who already takes away the life of another person. It is to be said by one scholar that “a person who kills another must be eliminated from the society and therefore his execution is justified.”
Death penalty though one hand has retributive effect but on other hand it also has deterrent affect which mainly deter the offenders to indulge in most heinous crimes. Its deterrent effect can be a best way by which perhaps, offenders keep themselves away from the criminality. If they aware about this and make such fear in their mind than in positive way it can be reduction of the incidences of homicide in the existing society. But in present the method of public hanging in the early days is totally prohibited in respect of present laws in our country because of extension of human rights regime.
In concluding remarks I would like to say that in our country there shall be retention of death penalty because in present era there is no substitute of death penalty which may play a similar role towards punishing the criminals convicted in heinous criminal activities. In India, there are number of people as well as some of communities raising their voice to abolish death penalty but there is no substitution or alternate of death sentence which may prevent the criminal to commit those offences which may be resulted with death penalty as a mode of punishment. If in India, death penalty would be abolished than in that cases the amount of criminality or criminals or rate of the offences would be increased as per the time may spend. Therefore, in India it is not quite possible to abolish death sentence as mode of punishment which mentioned in Indian Penal Code, 1860. Because if someone want to harvest crops from the fields than he has been firstly, decided about the substitute crop in his field. Similar is in case of death penalty, if there is a need to change in the modes of the punishment which already existing in present society or also enshrined in the codified laws than a further step should be there for deterrence of the criminal minds and their behaviors towards the particular community or society at large. Though, as per the opinions of the some of the people belonging to the society in more than hundred countries death penalty has been abolished than they should be remembered that we can’t change anything with only seeing particular actions instead of this we should rely upon the circumstances of those countries where it is abolished. Not only the present circumstances but also in past circumstances because it could be considered that ‘future may be based on past’. Because, if we want to cut the tree than we analyze its roots to cut out them as similar if we want to abolish death penalty than it should be great concern in the history of those countries which had death penalty but abolished later. Therefore, death penalty should be retained in India and those laws which are existing in present society shall be enforced. In other words we can say that laws regarding the prevention of criminal activities or criminals or heinous crime than such law need to have some enforcement among the particular communities as well as society at large in India.