Death By Hanging Cruel? Supreme Court Asks Centre To Begin Discussion

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The Centre should consider whether there can be a “less painful” alternative to death by hanging way of carrying out death sentences than hanging, the Supreme Court said today.
The Supreme Court asked the Centre to initiate a discussion and collect information to examine if there can be a less painful method than hanging by the neck. Attorney General R Venkataramani was asked to get back to the court on any study on the impact of death by hanging.

The court said it was open to setting up a panel of experts to consider the subject, as it heard a petition seeking a “painless end for death convicts. The petition also suggests shooting, lethal injection or the electric chair instead of hanging.

The process is “absolutely cruel”, said lawyer Rishi Malhotra, reading out a Law Commission report.

“Yes, it’s a matter of reflection. We need some scientific data in our hands. Give us some study on the pain caused, we may form a committee. We will keep it for a later date,” Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said, posting the next hearing to May 2.

During the hearing, the judges discussed the alternatives.

“Even today the question that there should be dignity in death is not in contest or inflicting less pain… Hanging seems to satisfy both these conditions… Does lethal injection satisfy on this count. In USA it was found that lethal injection is found not to be immediate,” said Justice PS Narasimha.

“Even lethal injection is painful. Coming to shooting, it was a favourite time-pass of military regimes, in complete violation of human rights,” said the Chief Justice.

The judges also called for research on which chemical would be used in the lethal injection.

“We have to see if this method satisfies the test of proportionality and if there is another method which can be adopted, then if death by hanging can be declared as unconstitutional,” said Justice Chandrachud.

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