Keep death sentence only for terror-related offences: Law panel

New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) The Law Commission, in a report released on Monday, recommended India abolish the death penalty, with the exception of terror-related offences, saying that sending a convict to the gallows has lost its relevance as a deterrent to curb heinous offences.

While not recommending the abolition of death sentence in terror-related cases, the commission has however, said that “there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes”.

Making an exception for terrorism, it noted that “a concern is often raised that abolition of death penalty for terrorism related offences and waging war (against India), will affect the national security”.

“However, given the concern raised by the law makers, the commission does not see any reason to wait any longer to take the first step towards abolition of death penalty for all the offences other than the terrorism-related offences, said the report’s recommendations.

“It (capital punishment is deterrent) is a myth. It is no deterrence. It has lost its relevance as deterrent,” said Justice (retd.) A.P.Shah while releasing the report on his last day as the chairman of the Law Commission.

The “strong recommendation” for the abolition of death sentence for all the offences other than terrorism-related offences and waging war against the country found favour with six members of the commission while three members – two government representatives and Justice Usha Mehra – differed.

Saying the abolition of death sentence had to be a “gradual” process as was done in England, Justice Shah said that “it has to be a gradual process and to begin with ordinary law”.

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