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Supreme Court moots formation of expert committee to study if death by hanging is suitable, painless method

The Supreme Court of India has decided to form of an expert committee to find out if death by hanging is the most suitable and painless method for implement death penalty.

A bench comprising of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha have asked the Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani for providing details on whether there is any data or study which was undertaken regarding the impact and pain caused during death by hanging.

The Bench also asked the AG if it is the most suitable method to be used at present.

The Court told the AG to reply back to the bench and said that there should be data before the court on the impact of death by hanging, pain caused and the period taken for such death to take place, availability of resources to effectuate such hanging by death.

The Court was also keen to know about the suggestion of today’s science on this method been the best or about any other way which is more suitable to uphold human dignity.

The Supreme Court suggested that it can form a committee to conduct a study into the same if the government has not undertaken such a study.

The Court stated that if Centre has not done this study, then we can form a committee which can have experts from two national law universities like NLU Delhi, Bangalore or Hyderabad, some doctors from AIIMS, distinguished people across the country and some scientific experts.

The Bench added that it may be concluded that death by hanging is appropriate but we need to be aided by a study to authenticate the belief.

The top court was hearing a plea field by advocate Rishi Malhotra to do away with death by hanging and to instead adopt comparatively painless methods like injection or electrocution.

The Law Commission in its 187th Report had noted that, there was a significant increase in the number of countries where hanging has been abolished and substituted by electrocution, shooting or lethal injection as the method of execution.

The plea said that as per the report it is categorically opined that hanging is undoubtedly accompanied by intense physical torture and pain.

Malhotra, appearing in-person, argued that the process in India of hanging till death is absolutely cruel and inhumane.

Justice Narasimha believed that there should be dignity in death and it should be as painless as possible and hanging seemed to satisfy the same.

He also added that hanging seems to satisfy both these conditions, but talking about lethal injections, in USA it was found that the death is not immediate.

CJI Chandrachud weighed in, by saying that it is important to know about the anecdotal incidents of lethal injection. He added that if it is a heavy weight patient, the patient struggles to die.

Advocate Malhotra said that no process is fool proof.. we have to compare it with hanging.

The CJI said that in US there is strong evidence on the pain caused by lethal injection you see. I do a lot of reading on this side

Malhotra keeping up with his point said that there are hardly hangman available and for a hanging in Delhi, such hangman is called from Calcutta, Mumbai etc,

The Court eventually posted the case for further consideration on May 2 while asking the AG to furnish details about death by hanging method.

The Bench concluded by saying that we have to see if this method satisfies the test of proportionality or whether there is another method which can be adopted so that death by hanging can be declared as unconstitutional.

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