Suggest an alternative to the punishment of death by hanging : Supreme Court’s directive to Centre

New Delhi – Hanging by the neck to execute the death sentence can be declared unconstitutional if there is scientific material favouring a different method of execution as less painful and “more consistent with human dignity”, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

“We will examine two things. If there is an alternative method which is far more consistent with human dignity… because that will render death by hanging unconstitutional. And second, we will see even otherwise, this method passes the test of proportionality in the procedure as well as the manner,” the Bench, which also included justice PS Narasimha, told Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani.

A Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, added that the Court is inclined to set up a panel of experts to go into the issue threadbare and examine if there is empirical evidence to suggest hanging may not be the least painful and dignified mode of execution.

Malhotra, in his petition filed in 2017, challenged the constitutional validity of Section 354(5) of the CrPC, which states that when a person is sentenced to death, he shall be hanged by the neck till he is dead. The lawyer contended that execution of a death sentence by hanging is an inhuman and cruel act that violates the fundamental right of a convict.