Lecture on Death Penalty in Asia

There will be a lecture by David T. Johnson, Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Hawaii, on “The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia” at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi at 3 p.m. on March 14th.

Over the last three decades, the number of countries in the world to abolish capital punishment has tripled, and some regions of the world, such as Europe and Latin America, are now almost death penalty free zones. In this context, Asia has become the regional capital of capital punishment, the site of more than 90% of all the judicial executions in the world. But death penalty policy and practice is changing in Asia too. This talk, based on a forthcoming book with the same title, describes and explains how capital punishment is changing in Asia and explores some possible death penalty futures in Asia generally and in India specifically.

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  • Venkatesan, If you are attending it, can you please post a short summary of the lecture? I wonder how the death penalty status quo in India can change. Parliament will probably never abolish it. Can the SC be pursuaded? ‘Rarest of rare’ should be abolished just for its vagueness, if not for all the other substantive reasons that Justice Bhagwati’s dissent in Bachan Singh gave.
    Between, the Law Commission has started a new debate on methods of execution in its Consultation Paper.

  • Well, I want to point out the two recent decisions of the SC. It was interesting to see how Justice Sinha referred to Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR and converted death penalty to life imprisonment. He also referred to other countries where death penalty has been recently abolished. On the Contrary, Justice Katju(on the same bench) dissented- and reasoned that SC can’t do what Justice Sinha seems to be doing. It’s like a Constitutional Amendment. He referred to provisions where the President has power to pardon death penalty. So his reason was that if SC abolish death penalty, you are actually amending the constitution which is not what judiciary mandate is.

    In US, recently the death penalty debate has been a subject matter of great discussion. There has been a lot of empirical studies as to what purpose does death penalty serve. At least in US, the cost of execution is very high. Right now, the SC is considering the constitutionality of death penalty by lethal injections.

  • Rajat, can you please give the name/citation of the judgment by Justice Sinha that you mention in your comment?