The Power of Centre and State in Imposing Death Penalty

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Power of Centre and State in Imposing Death Penalty

Written By:– Aayushi Singh


Capital Punishment: Capital Punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence order that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a death sentence, and the act of carrying out such a sentence is known as an execution.

When a person done a Heinous Crime (Murder, Rape, Molestation, Child abuse). The criminal received the death penalty for this heinous crime. Capital punishment gives when a person do a criminal offence.

History of the development of Criminal law in India:

  • There are no clear references to the existence of the judicial organization in the Vedic period. It appears village elders acted as the judges and punishment was awarded according to the nature of the offense, in accordance with local usages and customs.
  • In Ancient India the administration of justice was centralized and it always remains separate from the executive and generally dependent in form and ever Independent in spirit The Mughals implemented Shariat or the Islamic law of crime and punishment the main sources of which were the Quran, the Hadis and lima.

The Muslim administration of justice in Medieval India suffered from many defects. It was defective as there was no separation between the executive and judiciary.

Judiciary in Ancient India:

  • In the Vedic period when the social and state information was yet to be completed Dharma was the main source or sole source of law.
  • Before the conquest of India by the Muslims, the prevailing in India was the Hindu criminal law. Ancient smriti writers were also fully aware of the various purposes served by punishing the criminals. Manu, Yajnavalka, and Brihaspati state that there were four methods of punishment namely, by gentle admonition, by severe reproof, of fine, and by corporal punishment.

Criminal Justice in Ancient India:

  • The development of both the Criminal and Civil Legal system in India dates back to the ancient period to a land that was ruled by various kings of India right from 3000B.C.E to 1001C.E and beyond. This country had a similar system of law for well over 4000years. No other country in the world can claim such credit and even though this land was divided into hundreds of small political kingdoms the law of the land called Niti and Dharma given by the great Hindu lawgiver Manu were common or similar in nature.
  • The Dharmashastra and the Kautilya’s Arthashastra, however, present a more detailed and well-developed system of criminal adjudication prevailing in their time. The Niti Shastra mentions the king as the fountain of Justice and it was his sacred duty to punish the wrong-doers and if he flinched from discharging this duty, he was bound to go to hell.

The Power of Centre and State in Imposing of Death Penalty:

  • Capital Punishment: Capital punishment, also called the death penalty, execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment should be distinguished from extrajudicial executions carried out without due process of law. The term death penalty is sometimes used interchangeably with capital punishment, though the imposition of the penalty is not always followed by execution (even when it is upheld on appeal), because [1]of the possibility of commutation to life imprisonment.

As currently administered, the federal death penalty is used to attain death sentences against defendants in states where the death penalty is not available, where the state prosecution has resulted in a sentence less than death, or where a state death sentence has been overturned on appeal.

The death penalty is available very broadly under federal law, whereas in some states it is not available, not imposed, or more difficult to obtain when sought. In practice, the number of federal capital prosecutions remains low, and the vast majority of homicide prosecutions are undertaken by state criminal justice systems.

Before the last third of the twentieth century, the bulk of federal criminal law was directed at conduct that was particularly or inherently federal—crimes against the sovereignty of the federal government, such as treason, and crimes involving national currency, borders, land, or territories. Almost by definition, the conduct proscribed in a truly national crime was beyond the reach of state criminal statutes or enforcement capabilities. The death penalty in the United States is primarily governed by state law, not federal law. Although there is a federal death penalty.

Capital Punishment in the Indian Penal Code:

Dacoity with murder- in the case where a group of five or more individuals commits dacoity and one of them commits murder in the course of that crime, all members of the group are liable for the death penalty. A death sentence is a legal process where a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime committed by him. The judicial decree that someone should be punished in this manner is called a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is called an execution. Crimes that can result in the death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital has a Latin origin from the term capitalist, literally “regarding the head”.

It refers to a sentence that condemns a convicted defendant to death. It is also an affliction or a situation that is considered to be fatal; also a prognosis of death. In India, section 368 of the Criminal Procedure Code gives the power of confirmation of death sentence to the High Courts. A death sentence is normally given in case of murder, for waging war against the state, and also in cases cited as Rarest of Rarest Cases.


The death penalty was given by the state and federal for heinous crimes like murder, rape, etc.

[1] Roger Hood:  Professor, Centre for Criminological Research, University of Oxford. Author of the Death Penalty.

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