Significant number of judges, ‘rarest of rare’ was based on description of the offences alone and had little to do with judicial test requiring that alternative of the life imprisonment be ‘unquestionably foreclosed.’
On Saturday, National Law University of Delhi’s Centre on Death Penalty released a comprehensive report on the capital punishment in India, which is titled as ‘Matters of Judgment‘.
The report is an opinion study on criminal justice system and death penalty. It features interviews with 60 Former Supreme Court Judges like Justices AK Ganguly, Justice Santosh Hegde, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice BN Srikrishna and Justice RC Lahoti who adjudicated on 208 Death Penalty cases among them between 1975 and 2016.
Report further provides for acknowledgment and widespread concern among the Former SC judges about crisis in India’s criminal justice system on the account of the widespread prevalence of the torture, fabrication of the evidence, abysmal quality of the legal aid and the wrongful convictions.
Despite 43 Former Apex Court Judges acknowledging the wrongful convictions as a worrying reality, only the five judges recognised the ‘possibility of error’ as a possible reason for the abolition of death penalty in India.
Report points out that there exists no uniform understanding of requirements of ‘rarest of rare’ doctrine in the furtherance of Bachan Singh Judgment (1980) and thus giving rise to the serious concerns about judge-centric sentencing.
23 former judges supported that Deterrence emerged as the strongest penological justification for retaining death penalty.
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