In Support of Capital Punishment

Raghuvansh Seth explains the reasons as to why capital punishment is feasible in certain cases and how the arguments against the grant of Capital punishment may actually be futile, stating reasons for it’s viability.

One of the most highly-debated topics in the world today, is the ‘Capital Punishment’ (or the death penalty). Capital punishment refers to the authorized killing of someone as a punishment for committing a crime. It is based on the concept that the State has the supreme authority to take a certain criminal’s life if, and only if, the degree of the crime committed is so heinous or abhorrent that death is the only punishment which compensates for it, provided that the guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Now, capital punishment has been challenged by a majority of people for a variety of reasons- be it the violation of the fundamental right to life, the brutal nature of it, the principle that ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’ or that it simply personifies revenge, and other moral reasons. Taking all the above contentions in mind, it should duly be noted that I nonetheless, support capital punishment. This is solely because I believe in the very concept of it, that is, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I believe that the peoples’ case towards capital punishment is not against its concept or what it implies, but is against the inefficient way in which it has been executed in the past. There have been instances when the death sentence has been passed by the State, but the accused have later proven to be innocent. A few cases have also come to light in which the accused have been found out to be innocent, several years after the execution has already been carried out, for eg. the ‘Nie Shubin’ case, and these cases have provided ample basis to the people to challenge the very existence of concept. I hold the opinion that these instances, coupled with a few others, highlight the inefficient way in which the courts have carried out the death penalty, and have in turn prompted the people to pose such questions.

Coming to the arguments against capital punishment. There are people who argue that the death penalty is unconstitutional because it violates the fundamental Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 the Constitution. I respectfully disagree. I believe that the state, while passing a judgement related to a crime of such abhorrent nature, acts within its powers and has the exception, even though there isn’t one, under Article 21 to pass such a judgement. It is also argued that the punishment is discriminatory and is often used against the most vulnerable people in the society, including the poor, ethnic and religious minorities, people with mental disabilities etc. It has been pointed out that the justice systems, in various instances, are flawed and may often lead to unfair trials, and the governments have also been criticized for the arbitrary use of their powers. While all these arguments may seem justified in themselves, they somehow fail to establish any particular connection with the meaning of ‘Capital Punishment’, and as to how it is not justified. These problems are certainly faced by the people, but they are faced in general and not particularly in the case of Capital Punishment. They do only as much as highlighting the shortcomings of the law and its execution, and don’t provide any solid reasons to back the claims regarding the unconstitutionality of the concept.

The method to carry out the punishment has also been a matter of dispute over the past couple of years. This is because people are not comfortable with the idea of using means such as firing squad, hanging, or anything that sheds blood, for that matter. They pretend as if execution is a sort of medical procedure involving heart monitors and IV lines, but what they fail to understand is that Capital Punishment is not a two-way street, that is, either you must accept the brutal nature of it and not be cynical about shedding blood, or give up on it altogether .

Now, it should also be noted that a large share of the people against the death penalty state the concept of ‘morality’ as their basis. They argue that ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’ and that ‘revenge is not the answer – the answer lies in reducing violence, and not causing more death ’. They believe that no matter how heinous or grave the crime committed may be, nothing gives the right to the State to take someone’s life. According to them, taking someone’s life is the absolute lowest that any State call fall to, as in doing so, it is committing the very crime that it seeks to prevent, and in turn, epitomizing hypocrisy. They hold that once the victim is gone, there is nothing that can bring him back, and taking the life of the killer would only serve the purpose of revenge and act only as a means to extend the suffering to the killer’s family, rather than assuaging one’s own grief. I disagree with the assertion that killing the killer serves no purpose other than revenge, and believe that the people who commit such crimes without any regard to the consequences, deserve to be treated as trash. I also don’t believe in the theory behind ‘an eye for an eye’, and support any harsh decisions which the State is compelled to make under such circumstances, and all the people who disagree and would rather hide behind the facade of ‘revenge’, are just too naïve to accept it.

Therefore, I certainly support and consider Capital Punishment as a completely valid and justified practice. This is because I believe that the State should have the power, if the nature of the crime is such and the state deems it fit, to take someone’s life. This punishment acts as a bar for all the criminals and serves as an ultimatum, that if they, continue to engage in such heinous crimes (i.e murder, rape etc), regardless of the consequences, they would receive a befitting response.

Notwithstanding this interpretation, statistics have shown that the concept has been unable to serve its purpose of deterrence, and that the crime levels have not gone down even after such a punishment is in play. Rather, the countries which have abolished the death penalty have recorded lower rates of crime in contrast to the countries that haven’t. However, I believe that these numbers can be attributed to coincidence and to the inefficient way in which the punishment is carried out, that is, there is always scope for ambiguity in the facts and the decisions related to the death penalty. The costs and the time required to implement the death penalty, biasness of the courts and the unfair means adopted by the rich to manipulate the facts in their favor, are some of the factors which have hindered the development of the death penalty and have forced the people to mount pressure on the system to get rid of the concept altogether.


Therefore, all these assertions point towards the fact that it is the loopholes in the system, resulting in the inefficiency of the execution of capital punishment, that have made the people cynical towards the concept of it. However, provided that it is carried out efficiently and imposed only when the guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt, and there is little or no hope of reformation of the accused, it can certainly prove to be a reliable and an effective crime deterrent, which also highlights the superiority of the State in such matters.



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