Capital Punishment: Pros and Cons, Why is it Justified?

There’s no such definition given in the Indian penal code and section 53 talks about the punishment of the death penalty and other punishments in which the death penalty is only given in the rarest of rare cases. Offences are also categorized into two types, i.e., simple and rigorous punishment. Criminals are around the globe and in countries like India with huge crime rates, we need actions against the crimes to protect our society. Criminals commit such heinous acts which are not excusable and a threat to our society, we must punish criminals to maintain peace and security for the public welfare and capital punishment is awarded for the most heinous and grievous crimes against humanity like criminal conspiracy, murder, the war against the government, dacoity with murder etc under Indian penal code. The death penalty’s mercy can only be given by the president. President has the power to grant a pardon or remissions, etc, under Article 72. In India, the death penalty is carried by hanging the person till he/she dies.


‘Rarest of rare case’ is the doctrine which was established in the Bacchan v. State of Punjab[1], the apex court sought to reduce ambiguity regarding when to apply the highest punishment of the land by cutting out a doctrine for offences punishable by death. According to the Supreme Court, death penalty constitutionality must be observed only in the “rarest of rare cases.” However, the scope of this term is not defined. It is determined by the Ratio Decidendi of the Bachchan Singh case that the death penalty is constitutional when it is prescribed as an alternative to the death penalty for murder and the punishment for murder is life imprisonment. The death penalty can only be imposed in the arrest of rare cases” when no alternative can be found.

later, in Macchi Singh v. State of Punjab[2], the apex court outlined criteria for determining whether a crime fell into the category of “rarest of rare.” According to the Supreme Court ruling in Santosh Kumar Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra, “the rarest of rare dictum serves as a guideline in enforcing Section 354(3), establishing that life imprisonment is the norm and death punishment is the exception.” Under Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code, all life-sentenced offenders were sentenced to death. As a result, this section was declared unconstitutional. It was in 2008 that the court ruled on the concept of a “rarest of rare cases” in the case of Prajeet Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar[3]. According to the Supreme Court, a death sentence could only be given if a murder is committed in a ruthless, grotesque, diabolical, revolting or dastardly manner that arouses intense and extreme resentment in the community.

Rarest rare cases are only for the exceptional cases that the court can not ignore for the justice of the victim and it’s the court’s duty to serve justice for the victim who has suffered and to protect society from the cruel offender to keep justice alive.


Capital punishment is an essential factor for the protection of society from criminals who are cruel and lost humanity and treat humans as robots, they should get punished so that our society can be safer. This will set an example for criminals to not commit such heinous crimes; if they commit such acts, they will be aware of the consequences.

Capital punishment is important to execute to stop the continuance of the crime, as per the research the crime rates are higher when there was an abolishment of the punishment and when they are in execution the research shows that there are fewer crimes which shows that punishment makes criminal aware of their life and by such impactful punishment, we can say that the crime rate decreases and hence, it is beneficial for the society and security of the nation from criminals.

When the criminal is serving his/her punishment they tend to escape from prison which will lead to more crimes and justice will not be served as they didn’t complete their punishment and it is not fair to the victim. when criminals escape, they tend to do more crimes which will be a threat to society. It is a risk for society and we have the duty to serve justice and to make sure that the criminal suffers for what he/she did.


Many people consider the death penalty or capital punishment as a cruel way of punishing the criminal and they also say it’s punishing the murderer by murdering him/her and it is murder in itself as we say but it appears to be a violent cycle which is never-ending in nature and this keeps the continuation of the violence per se and it is not the right path.

There can be chances where the judiciary mistakes the decision because of false evidence or fewer shreds of evidence available which can lead to an incorrect decision; the innocent can suffer and get convicted and the decision cannot be taken back in any condition even if the person is found innocent later and one innocent life will end and we can do nothing to bring him back and if the same is imprisoned then the life can be saved and if he/she is found innocent later then we can free the person and compensate for the same. He will not get his time back but at least can live the rest of his life.

There are instances when the wrongdoer does not have the mental capacity to understand the repercussions of what he is doing, and such individuals need rehabilitation and several sessions of the consultation, instead of immediate punishment because executing such individuals will not do justice to them, as they are unlikely to have had any mens rea (guilty mind) when they committed the crime. As a result, those who deserve a chance at life do not have the opportunity to do so through the death penalty. Even the idea of taking someone’s life does not seem very normal. In addition to being violent, such punishment is also unusual and cruel. Although offenders should be punished, they can do so by being jailed for life, not executed. 


A fundamental right to life and liberty is guaranteed to all persons by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This amendment specifies that life and liberty shall not be taken from a person without first following the legal procedure. According to this interpretation, the state can deprive a person of his life if there is a fair and valid procedure in place. As well as upholding the constitutional validity of capital punishment in the “rarest of rare” cases, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of capital punishment in those cases when the central government maintains that it acts as a deterrent for those who pose a threat to society. The Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutional validity of the death penalty three times: in Jagmohan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1973), in Rajendra Prasad v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1979), and finally in Bacchan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980).[4] An individual can receive the death penalty if the laws provide it and if the process is fair, just and reasonable. A person will be sent to the gallows only in the “rarest of rare” cases, and the courts should justify their decision with “special reasons” that would not consider a violation of article 21. It was cleared by the apex court that exceptional cases can execute the death penalty that is a threat to society i.e, heinous crimes and crimes which cannot be ignored. As per the circumstances of the case and facts the court decides if the death penalty will be awarded or not.


Capital punishment is justified for the following reasons: –

In my opinion, the death penalty should be justified in certain cases and it is essential as well for the protection and safety of society. As it is a deterrence to society and if we don’t punish them the crime rate would increase and criminals will be free of any crime as there will be no serious crimes. The victim deserves justice and the death penalty is only given under the rarest of rare cases with all pieces of evidence, facts and circumstances of the crime and by considering and consulting senior judges, the decision of the death penalty is awarded.

It’s a matter of humanity and the person who is taking the lives of another person without any thoughts then why he/she should live and they will be a threat. It is necessary to protect the people and ensure they live in a safe space. In Macchi Singh’s case, it was stated the guidelines to consider under the rarest of rare cases which is the in what manner the crime was committed, in what manner the ultimate motive for the crime was, in what way the act was antisocial or abhorrent, in what proportion the crime was committed, in what way the victims were harmed, in what manner the victims were harmed.[5]


It is important to protect our society because they are a threat to us and people cannot live freely all of us have the right to freedom which will be infringed upon by criminals, and it will be hard for people to go out and live their life. Court has the duty towards society to protect them from cruelty and the brutality that criminals do. It is the right of the victim to get justice. It is important to keep humanity alive and to send a warning for what they will suffer for their actions. It will also decrease the crime rate and it will be a better environment, people won’t be terrified and know that our court does justice and criminals would suffer from the consequences.

For countries like India, where the cases of rape and murder have increased and have been seen more often, it is important to have punishment as serious as the death penalty for protection.[6] So, people can be less terrified of what is going to happen to them or doubt their safety in their own country. Hence, the death penalty is essential in certain cases where it is needed for justice for society and the victim. Such criminals should not allow living who have lost their humanity.


The death penalty is also known as capital punishment and in my opinion death penalty is justified for the safeguard and protection of society. The apex court has also laid down the doctrine of the rarest of rare cases and the guidelines for the consideration of the punishment and it is also said that Article 21 is not a violation. It is important for criminals to know the consequences. It is important to also decrease crime rates. There must be no unnecessary delay between the date when a death penalty order is passed and the date on which it is executed. The death penalty is a serious punishment and is only given in heinous or rarest of rare cases.

[1] Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab on 9 May, 1980 –, , (last visited Jan 22, 2023).

[2] Admin. (2022, November 3). Machhi Singh and others vs the state of Punjab. Legal Study Material. Retrieved January 23, 2023, from

[3] Prajeet Kumar Singh vs the state of bihar through the home … on 22 … (no date). Available at: (Accessed: January 23, 2023).

[4] Singh, A. (2020) Capital punishment, Indian Law Portal. Available at: (Accessed: January 23, 2023).

[5] Singh, A. (2020) Capital punishment, Indian Law Portal. Available at: (Accessed: January 23, 2023).

[6] Singh, A. (2020) Capital punishment, Indian Law Portal. Available at: (Accessed: January 23, 2023).

Author: Kajal Agrawal

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