The Centre today told the Supreme Court that executing a death row convict by hanging was the most viable method as lethal injection “was not workable”.
But this was only a mere oral remark by Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand who represented the Centre during the hearing of a plea filed by Rishi Malhotra, a Supreme Court advocate, seeking abolition of hanging by the neck.
He had suggested alternative methods such as intravenous lethal injection or shooting.
A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra has asked the centre to file a detailed affidavit specifying its stand on the issue and granted four weeks for this purpose.
Chief Justice Misra has also asked the Centre to appraise it about the various modes of executing death row prisoners prevalent in other countries.
The SC had on October 6 urged the parliament to consider amending the Criminal Procedure Code to change the mode of execution of a death row convict from the present hanging to some other less painful method.
WE WILL NOT DECIDE: CJI
During the hearing, the bench made it clear that the apex court would not decide as to what should be the mode of executing a condemned prisoner in India.
“We cannot say what should be the mode. Tell us what is happening in other countries”, CJI Misra told ASG Anand.
Malhotra, which referred to Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution and said it also included the right of condemned prisoner to have a dignified mode of execution so that death becomes less painful.
The plea has said the Law Commission report had noted a significant increase in the number of countries where hanging has been abolished and substituted by electrocution, shooting or lethal injection as methods of execution.
It said dying with dignity is part of right to life and the present practice of executing a death row convict by hanging involves prolonged pain and suffering.
The present procedure can be replaced with intravenous lethal injection, shooting, electrocution or gas chamber in which death is just a matter of minutes, it said.
The PIL has sought quashing of section 354(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that when a person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that the condemned prisoner be hanged by the neck till death. It has sought to declare right to die by a dignified procedure of death as a fundamental right as defined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Drawing a comparison, the petition has said that while in hanging, the entire execution process takes over 40 minutes to declare prisoner dead, the shooting process involved not more than a few minutes. In case of intravenous lethal injection, it is all over in 5 minutes.