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Murder Most Foul, Though not Rarest of Rare
by Prof. B.B. Pande, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

Cite as : (1996) 5 SCC (Jour) 1

Murder is considered the most serious offence affecting the human body. Amongst murders certain types have been deemed as higher degree murders on the basis of greater blameworthiness as in the cases of extreme brutality, exceptional depravity and specially sensitive status of the victim.1 In the contemporary social context "dowry murders" can easily be identified as one such category that would more easily qualify to fall in higher degree murders. Keeping in view the strong social abhorrence for dowry-associated criminality generally, the legal framework has been appropriately revamped with a view to effectively deal with dowry crimes, particularly those involving bodily aggressions such as bride-burning, dowry murders etc.

Ravindra Trimbak Chouthmal v. State of Maharashtra2 (hereinafter referred to as Ravindra case) is the latest dowry murder pronouncement of the Supreme Court that has attempted to give a new direction to the law on the point, particularly on the sentencing aspect, that, to say the least, is likely to lead to a serious debate. The Bench decision of Justice B.L. Hansaria and Justice G.N. Ray is in agreement with the trial court and the High Court on the question of fact that the appellant killed his eight month pregnant wife Vijaya in conspiracy and with the help of his father. The motive of putting an end to Vijaya's life was to secure freedom from matrimonial bond for the appellant, a engineering college lecturer, who could re-marry after receiving higher dowry. The Court had no difficulty in arriving at a right conclusion about the diabolic plan as indicated in Justice Hansaria's categorical ruling:

"The present was thus a murder most foul ... The motive was to get another girl for the appellant who could get dowry to satisfy the greed of the father. Dowry deaths are blood-boiling, as human blood is spilled to satisfy raw greed, naked greed; a greed which has no limit."(para 9)

Testing the Murder on the "rarest of rare" Touchstone

The judgment seems to have taken a new course in its finding and also the reasoning regarding the categorisation of the present murder as not a "rarest of rare" type.

We begin with the ruling of the Court in this respect:

"We have given considered thought to the question and we have not been able to place the case in that category which could be regarded as 'rarest of the rare' type. This is because dowry deaths have ceased to belong to that species of killing. The increasing number of dowry deaths would bear this."(para 10) (emphasis supplied)

A simple understanding of the above finding of the Court would be that "dowry murder" would not fall in the "rarest of rare" category, because of its growing number and incidence. The logic of such a finding is that ever since dowry murders have become frequent and usual they cease to be "rarest of rare", which necessarily relates to infrequent or unusual occurrences. The reverse of such a logic would mean that if for some reason (better social education or proper preventive action) the incidence of dowry murder becomes infrequent or unusual in future, it may again claim to fall in the "rarest of rare" category.

It would be worthwhile to examine the genesis and rationale of "rarest of rare" categorisation. The Supreme Court decision in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab3 can be attributed to have invented this category as a death penalty exclusionary device in the following terms:

"A real and abiding concern for the dignity of human life postulates resistance to taking life that ought not to be done save in the 'rarest of rare' cases when the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed."

However, the Bachan Singh3 decision did not elaborate the criteria for identifying "rarest of rare" cases. In 1983 the Supreme Court decision in Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab4 laid down the guidelines for the application of the "rarest of rare" rule to specific cases. The guidelines were couched in fairly broad terms that relate to several considerations such as: "Manner of commission of murder", "Motive for the commission of murder", "Anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of the crime", "Magnitude of crime" and "Personality of victim of murder". For our present discussion we focus on the third criterion, namely "Anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of the crime", which specifically refers to bride-burning and dowry murders in clause (b) in these words:

"In case of 'bride-burning' and what are known as 'dowry deaths' or when murder is committed in order to re-marry for the sake of extracting dowry once again or to marry another woman on account of infatuation."

In several subsequent decisions involving dowry murder the courts consistently treated such cases as "rarest of rare" type. In 1985 in State (Delhi Admn.) v. Laxman Kumar5 the Court laid down suitable cases of bride-burning calling for death sentence as they are to be treated "rarest of rare". Again in 1989 in Allauddin Mian v. State of Bihar6 the Court had no difficulty in identifying bride-burning as a grave type of murder deserving death penalty. It is interesting that Justice Ahmadi (as he then was) thought that the increasing instances of bride-burning may justify death penalty "to protect the community and deter others".

Analysing the application of the "rarest of rare" rule in the context of the present case one can arrive at the following conclusions from the pronouncement: (a) the case does not belong to the "rarest of rare" category, (b) because of increase in their numbers dowry murders have ceased to belong to the "rarest of rare" category. It is surprising that the Court that considered the crime as "murder most foul", "dowry deaths are blood-boiling", had reservations in treating such an extreme case as "rarest of rare" type. Even more surprising is the reasoning deployed by the Court for arriving at such a conclusion, which makes "rarest of rare" categorisation not dependent upon extreme brutality or exceptional depravity but mere increase in number of incidents. As if greater numbers make dowry deaths less abhorring or less cruel. It must be realised that increasing incidents of crimes against women and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Dalits should lead us to forge more effective ways of controlling the crimes, not a justification for taking the lenient and easy alternative.

Justifications of Death Penalty

What ought to be the philosophy of punishment to guide the Court in matters of sentencing, particularly in cases involving choice of death penalty, is often an issue of serious conflict between the different Benches and even the Judges within the same Bench. The Judges rely on diverse justifications to arrive at their death sentence decisions. However, with the eclipse of retributive justification in the twentieth century, deterrence has emerged as the stock argument for justifying death sentence. The deterrent justification suits the designs of not only those who advocate 'hard' punishment in response to serious crimes, but also those who welcome countering the murderer's terror through State terror. Coming back to Ravindra case2, Justice Hansaria made the following observations concerning the justification of sentence awarded by him:

"To halt the rising graph, we at one point, thought to maintain the sentence, but we entertain doubts about the deterrent effect of death penalty much though we would have desired annihilation of a despicable character like the appellant before us. We therefore commute the sentence of death to one of RI for life imprisonment." (emphasis supplied).

In the above observation Justice Hansaria has said two significant things regarding sentencing, rather insignificantly. The first relates to the deterrent effect of death penalty. The second relating to the choice of alternative sentence of life imprisonment.

Deterrent effect of Death Penalty

Franklin E. Zimring and Gordan J. Hawkins in their most celebrated work7 on the theme of deterrence have lamented the unsatisfactory state of scientific understanding of deterrence in the field of criminal justice administration. According to the authors the state of affairs is a product of lack of rigorous conceptualization of deterrence as well as paucity of researches on the theme. The authors opine that there is a need to clearly appreciate the overlapping notions of deterrence.8 This is particularly important in the context of the debate pertaining to deterrent effect of death penalty, which relates to differing notions of deterrence, at times, without maintaining the conceptual clarity.

The debate about the deterrent effect of death penalty is dominated mainly by two viewpoints: The first that holds that death penalty has a deterrent effect, and the second that holds the opposite of it. The first viewpoint upholding the deterrent effect of death penalty is best propounded by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen in these words:

"No other punishment deters man so effectually from committing crimes as the punishment of death. This is one of those propositions which it is difficult to prove, simply because they are in themselves more obvious than any proof can make them. It is possible to display ingenuity in arguing against it, but that is all. The whole experience of mankind is in the other direction. The threat of instant death is the one to which resort has always been made when there was an absolute necessity for producing some result ... No one goes to certain inevitable death except by compulsion. Put the matter the other way. Was there ever yet a criminal, who when sentenced to death and brought out to die, would refuse the offer of a commutation of his sentence for the severest secondary punishment? Surely not. Why is this? It can only be because 'All that a man has he will give for his life.' In any secondary punishment, however terrible, there is hope; but death is death; its terrors cannot be described more forcibly."9

In the contemporary era the strongest advocacy for deterrent value of death penalty has come in the Canadian Report on Capital Punishment10. This Report based on evidence received from the enforcement officers considers death penalty as an important and necessary deterrent to murder and arrives at the following conclusion:

"First, that this opinion of the officers was not displaced by other evidence based upon statistical comparison, and that capital punishment did exercise a deterrent effect, which would not result from imprisonment or other forms of punishment; secondly, the fact that a considerable proportion of murders were committed under compulsion of passion or anger seems to demonstrate that death penalty, coupled with the excellent standards of law enforcement prevailing in Canada, had succeeded in deterring deliberate pre-meditated murders; thirdly, the deterrent effect was also indicated by the widespread association of death penalty with murder; fourthly, it was necessary to retain the stern penalty of death as a continuing restraint against the use of violence by professional criminals; fifthly, public abhorrence of murder reflected a traditional attitude built up by the reservation of capital punishment for this particular crime, and abolition of a penalty traditionally accepted as a just and effective deterrent could only be recommended if it was established clearly that the view of the ordinary citizens about its efficacy was demonstrably wrong; sixthly, capital punishment did protect the police to a greater extent than imprisonment alone would do, by deterring criminals from using violence to facilitate the commission of crimes, escape etc."11

In India the deterrent line has been best advocated in the Thirty-fifth Report of the Law Commission12, which opined the retention of death penalty mainly in view of its deterrent effect in these words: "Experience of other countries would not be conclusive for India. Need for deterrent control provided by capital punishment is greater in various classes of society. There is greater danger in India of increase in violent crimes if capital punishment is abandoned, particularly in respect of professional criminals."13 Though the Report has elaborately discussed the deterrence issue in chapters 4 and 5 and cited statistics from countries that have retained death penalty as well as those that have abolished it, but the manner in which they arrive at the conclusion about deterrent effect and the need to retain death penalty is far from convincing. For instance in their conclusion in para 372(i)14 they appear to be basing their assessment of the effect of death penalty on the normal human being "of ordinary frame of mind", but in para 12815 while expressing apprehension about rise in violent crime the Report refers to the "professional criminals" who by no stretch of imagination are normal or persons of ordinary frame of mind. Similarly in para 30916 the Report cites statistics that shows a uniform decline in homicidal crimes in both the retentionist and abolitionist countries and also records the conclusion of various authorities that "the rate of homicide is not affected by the presence or absence of death penalty", but this lesson is not reflected in their conclusion at all. Again in paras 31417 and 31618 the Report attempts to create a special position for India by describing India as a high murder rate country (on the basis of number of murders per million population) and indicating that during 1953 and 1962 the murder rate has shown a tendency to rise. It is surprising how India, a low crime rate country, should acquire a higher murder rate? Furthermore, according to the statistics quoted in para 316 the rate of murder per one million population declined from 29.8 in 1959 to 26 in 1962, which cannot be any indicator of an increasing tendency. All this goes in to prove that the findings of the Thirty-fifth Report, particularly in respect of deterrent effect of death penalty, cannot be described as an authentic evidence of relationship between death penalty and deterrent consequences.

The deterrent effect of death penalty line is sustained, particularly at the level of actual sentencing by the courts, by a consistent line of judicial decisions of the appellate courts in India. Starting right from the Full Bench decision in Bachan Singh v. State3, in which the majority decision of Justice Sarkaria (Chandrachud, C.J. and Gupta and Untwalia, JJ. concurring) observed: "In the instant case, the State has discharged its burden of satisfying the Court, the 35th Report of the Law Commission, 1967, and the judgments of the Supreme Court in Jagmohan Singh v. State of U.P. and in several subsequent cases, in which it has been recognised that death penalty serves as a deterrent."19

It is interesting to analyse the various reasons advanced by the Supreme Court for imposing death penalty in some of the recent decisions. In Mahesh v. State of M.P.20 the Court observed: "To give the lesser punishment for the appellants would be to render the justicing system of this country suspect. The common man will lose faith in courts. In such cases, he understands and appreciates the language of deterrence more than the reformative jargon."21 Later in Asharfi Lal v. State of U.P.22 the language of deterrence was used in these terms: "As a measure of social necessity and also as a means of deterring other potential offenders the sentence of death ... is confirmed."23 Again in Full Bench decision of Triveniben v. State of Gujarat24 the Court's faith in deterrent effect of death penalty was reiterated, though the Court conceded that greater deterrent value of death penalty was not empirically proved.

In Sevaka Perumal v. State of T.N.25 deterrence was seen in broader sentencing context as : "... law as cornerstone of the edifice of order should meet the challenges confronting the society. In operating the sentencing system, law should adopt the corrective machinery or the deterrence based on factual matrix. By deft modulation of sentencing process be stern where it should be, or be tempered with mercy where it warrants to be. The facts and give circumstances in each case, the nature of the crime, the manner in which it was planned and committed, the motive for commission of the crime, the conduct of the accused and all other attending circumstances are relevant facts which would enter into the area of consideration. For instance a murder committed due to deep-seated personal rivalry may not call for penalty of death. But an organised crime or mass murders of innocent people would call for imposition of death sentence as deterrence."26 Yet in Sashi Nayar v. Union of India27 the Court observed: "Death sentence has a deterrent effect and serves a social purpose ... In view of deteriorating and fast worsening law and order situation in the country, about which judicial notice can be taken, it is most inopportune time to reconsider the law on the subject and to take the risk of abolishing death sentence."28

Finally, in Ravji v. State of Rajasthan29 the Court propounded somewhat new but strong reasoning in favour of deterrent justification of sentencing in these words: "It is the nature and gravity of the crime but not the criminal, which are germane for consideration of appropriate punishment in a criminal trial. The Court will be failing in its duty if appropriate punishment is not awarded for a crime which has been committed not only against individual victims but also against the society to which the criminal and victim belong. The punishment to be awarded for a crime must not be irrelevant but it should conform to and be consistent with the atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been perpetrated, the enormity of crime warranting public abhorrence and it should 'respond to the society's cry for justice against the criminal.' If for such heinous crimes the most deterrent punishment for wanton and brutal murders is not given, the case of deterrent punishment will lose its relevance."30

The Courts in India have been fairly consistent in treating bride-burning and dowry-murder as grave offence deserving death penalty for its deterrent effect. In Kailash Kaur v. State of Punjab31 the Court observed: "Whenever such cases come before the court and the offence is brought home to the accused beyond reasonable doubt, it is the duty of the court to deal with it in most severe and strict manner and award the maximum penalty prescribed by the law in order that it may operate as a deterrent to other persons from committing such anti-social crimes."32 In the context of growing menace of dowry murders the following observations of Justice Ahmadi (as he then was) in Allauddin Mian v. State of Bihar6 are very pertinent: "Where the incidence of a certain crime is rapidly growing and is assuming menacing proportions, for example, acid-pouring or bride-burning, it may be necessary for the courts to award exemplary punishments to protect the community and to deter others from committing such crimes."33 (emphasis supplied)

The second viewpoint that denies the deterrent effect of death penalty is far less known and much less relied upon by the courts in matters of choice of punishment. However, since this viewpoint provides the mainstay of the abolitionist line of thinking and also the stock argument for commutationist choice, it would be worthwhile to examine its postulates as well. The strongest advocacy for this viewpoint is provided by the Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (1953). On the issue of deterrent effect of death penalty the Report of the Royal Commission summing up is as follows: "First, prima facie, the death penalty is likely to have a stronger effect as a deterrent to normal human beings than any other form of punishment. Secondly, there is some evidence that this is so. Thirdly, there is no convincing statistical evidence that the penalty of death has a stronger effect as a deterrent than any other form of punishment. Fourthly, this effect (that is to say, stronger effect as deterrent) does not operate universally or uniformly. Fifthly, the deterrent force of capital punishment operates not only by affecting the conscious thought of individuals tempted to commit murder, but also by building up in the community, over a long period of time, a deep feeling of peculiar abhorrence for the crime of murder. Sixthly, it is impossible to arrive confidently at a firm conclusion about the deterrent effect of death penalty or indeed of any form of punishment. Seventhly, it is important to view the question in a just perspective, and not to base a penal policy in relation to murder on exaggerated estimates of uniquely deterrent force of the death penalty."34 (emphasis supplied)

The Report of the Ceylon Commission on Capital Punishment35 is uniquely convincing in its denial of deterrent effect of death penalty. The majority report arrived at a clear conclusion against general deterrent effect of death penalty. The main thrust of its conclusion was: "Developing psychological knowledge gave no support to the assumption that a potential murderer calculated (before killing), the ultimate consequences, and pointed out that in an impulsive action, which, as in Ceylon, frequently led to murder, it was unlikely that there was any intellectual consideration at all prior to the killing, let alone a reflection of possible remote penalties. Further, in its opinion, difficulties of detection, apprehension and conviction and the discretionary exercise of reprieve, militated against death penalty being the unique deterrent which it was claimed to be."36 According to the report of Ceylon Commission certainty of detection and conviction was more conducive to the reduction of crime than the severity of punishment. Adverting specially on the issue of deterrent value of death penalty the Report observed: "In deciding on the wisdom of retention or abolition of capital punishment, reliance cannot be placed on there being any greater deterrence to potential murderers by imposing capital punishment on a few than by imprisoning all convicted murderers."37

The Royal Commission's and the Ceylon Commission's view is amply supported by research conducted in the United States on the deterrent effect of death penalty. In this context Glenn L. Pierce and Michael L. Radelet38 have observed: "A recent review of all post-1972 empirical studies on capital punishment identified no criminologist in the United States in the last fifteen years who has claimed to find data showing that death penalty has a long-term deterrent effect greater than that exerted by lengthy imprisonment. The only such study making such a claim was published not by a criminologist, but by an economist in a regional economic journal, and is severely flawed."39 However, there are some deterrence studies that tend to support the conclusion that after executions the homicide rates may actually increase.40

Relating all this discussion to Ravindra case2, the decision can be described as unusual for two reasons. First, much against the current judicial trend and social expectations, it has failed to describe the dowry murder in question as the "rarest of rare" type. Second, it has ruled, again in opposition to the current judicial trend, that death penalty does not have a deterrent effect and thus the sentence deserves to be commuted to RI for life.

What could be the reasons or justifications for the Court's unusual response to both the fairly settled issues? Referring first to the "rarest of rare" categorisation, the Court has itself described the crime in strongest terms as "murder most foul" or "dowry-deaths are blood-boiling". Why then did the Court fail in describing the murder as "rarest of rare"? Perhaps the Court appreciated "rarest of rare" as a technical or legal category that finally settled the question of death penalty, which they were trying to avoid for their own reasons. This argument is substantiated by the majority ruling of the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh v. State3, which reads: "... in the 'rarest of rare' cases ... the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed"41. However, there are certain rulings of the Supreme Court like Surinder Kumar v. State (Delhi Admn.)42 and Lichhamadevi v. State of Rajasthan43, where the Court fully appreciated the grave nature of the offence, but still declined to impose death penalty. Furthermore, the Court would have been more in tune with social sentiments only if they could perceive "rarest of rare" as a social category. There is a strong and growing opinion, particularly amongst women, that dowry deaths and violence are the worst form of reprehensible behaviour. Such a unanimous social opinion is based on social morality and ethics that are rooted in the values of individual dignity and equality. Thus, treating "rarest of rare" as a social category would have meant deciding in consonance with the prevalent social opinion on the issue. This way the Court could have deflected a major band of criticism against the decision, while retaining a wider discretion for itself on the matter of sentence.

Examining the Court's reasoning on the sentencing issue, one can refer to two observations. First : "Much though we would have desired annihilation of a despicable character like the appellant" and second: "We entertain doubts about the deterrent effect of death penalty." From these observations it appears that the Court would have no objection to annihilating the appellant provided death penalty could serve a deterrent purpose. That means the Court would have had no objection to death penalty only if it was shown to have deterrent effect. The Court, thus rejected both the retributive justification as well as the reformist justification premised on inherent value of human life. This reflects the Court's clear preference for a classical utilitarian position that justifies punishment solely on the basis of its benefits to the society.44 Though the Court was right in doubting the deterrent value of death penalty (such doubt is amply supported by the findings of the Royal Commission and Ceylon Commission discussed earlier45), but that alone should not have been enough for arriving at a conclusion about the untenability of deterrent justification or lack of social benefit flowing from death penalty. In this respect it may be worthwhile to repeat the observations of the Ceylon Commission and the Royal Commission as follows:

"Reliance cannot be placed on there being any greater deterrence to potential murderers by imposing capital punishment on a few than by imprisoning all convicted murderers."46

"It is important to view the question in a just perspective, and not to base a penal policy in relation to murder on exaggerated estimates of uniquely deterrent force of the death penalty."47

The Ravindra case2 decision has neither referred to the comparative deterrent value of death penalty nor tried to examine the issue of death penalty in the broader criminal justice perspective. It has initiated the intricate justification debate, but tried to resolve it rather too simplistically and on the basis of scientifically undeterminable social facts. In the process it has parted company with the established line of judicial thinking, without being able to provide an elaborate and well-reasoned alternate line. Such a failure to create a clear line would have ordinarily been passed over, but a case involving the killing of a young eight-month pregnant wife by the husband and the father-in-law in terms of a well laid out plan is certainly not most suited for such a misadventure.

  1. The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 1978 in clause 125 has proposed the idea of two degrees of murders, namely, the lower degree or the general murders for which the maximum punishment would be imprisonment for life and higher degree murders for which the maximum punishment would be death penalty. Murders under the following situations would be considered as higher degree murders:
          "(2) Whoever commits murder shall-
         (a) if the murder has been committed after previous planning and involves extreme brutality; or
         (b) if the murder involves exceptional depravity; or
         (c) if the murder is of a member of any of the armed forces of the Union or of a member of any police force or of any public servant and was committed
         (i)while such member or public servant was on duty; or
         (ii)in consequence of anything done or attempted to be done by such member or public servant in the lawful discharge of his duty as such member or public servant whether at the time of such murder he was such member or a public servant, as the case may be, or had ceased to be such member or public servant; or
         (d) if the murder is of a person who had acted in the lawful discharge of his duty under Section 43 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or had rendered assistance to a Magistrate or Police Officer demanding his aid or requiring his assistance under Section 37 or Section 129 of the said Code, or
         (e) if the murder has been committed by him, while undergoing sentence of imprisonment for life, and such sentence has become final." Return to Text
  2. (1996) 4 SCC 148: 1996 SCC (Cri) 608 Return to Text
  3. (1980) 2 SCC 684 : 1980 SCC (Cri) 580 Return to Text
  4. (1983) 3 SCC 470 : 1983 SCC (Cri) 681 Return to Text
  5. (1985) 4 SCC 476 : 1986 SCC (Cri) 2 Return to Text
  6. (1989) 3 SCC 5 : 1989 SCC (Cri) 490 Return to Text
  7. Deterrence - The Legal Threat in Crime Control, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London (1973) Return to Text
  8. Id. at pp. 70-90 Return to Text
  9. Stephen "Capital Punishment", Fraser's Magazine, Vol. LXIX, 1864 at p. 753 cited in Royal Commission Report on Capital Punishment, p. 19, para 57 Return to Text
  10. Report of the Joint Committee of Senate and House of Commons (Canada) on Capital Punishment, June 1956 Return to Text
  11. Cited in Law Commission of India, Thirty-fifth Report (Capital Punishment), Vol. 1 (1967), pp. 15-16, para 328 Return to Text
  12. Law Commission of India - Thirty-fifth Report (Capital Punishment), 1967, Government of India, Ministry of Law Return to Text
  13. Id. Vol. I, p. 54 Return to Text
  14. Id. p. 133 Return to Text
  15. Id. p. 54 Return to Text
  16. Id. p. 107 Return to Text
  17. Id. pp. 108-9 Return to Text
  18. Id. p. 110 Return to Text
  19. (1973) 1 SCC 20: 1973 SCC (Cri) 169, also in Paras Ram v. State of Punjab, (1981) 2 SCC 508: 1981 SCC (Cri) 516, the deterrent value of death penalty was stressed Return to Text
  20. (1987) 3 SCC 80: 1987 SCC (Cri) 379 Return to Text
  21. Id. at p. 82 Return to Text
  22. (1987) 3 SCC 224: 1987 SCC (Cri) 470 Return to Text
  23. Id. at p. 227 Return to Text
  24. (1989) 1 SCC 678: 1989 SCC (Cri) 248 Return to Text
  25. (1991) 3 SCC 471: 1991 SCC (Cri) 724 Return to Text
  26. Id. at p. 480 (para 9) Return to Text
  27. (1992) 1 SCC 96: 1992 SCC (Cri) 24 Return to Text
  28. Id. at p. 99 Return to Text
  29. (1996) 2 SCC 175 : 1996 SCC (Cri) 225 Return to Text
  30. Id. p. 187 Return to Text
  31. (1987) 2 SCC 631 : 1987 SCC (Cri) 431 Return to Text
  32. Id. p. 633 Return to Text
  33. (1989) 3 SCC 5 at p. 19; also see Lichhamadevi v. State of Rajasthan, (1988) 4 SCC 456 : 1988 SCC (Cri) 978, in which the Court treated bride-burning as an offence generally deserving death penalty; also compare the Court's appreciation of the growing incidence as a justification for deterrent punishment with almost opposite result in the Ravindra case. Return to Text
  34. Cited in the Thirty-fifth Report of the Law Commission of India at para 327, pp. 114-15 Return to Text
  35. Report of the Ceylon Commission of Inquiry on Capital Punishment, Sessional Paper XIV-1959 Return to Text
  36. Cited in the Thirty-fifth Report of the Law Commission of India, at para 330, p. 117 Return to Text
  37. Id. at para 331, p. 117 Return to Text
  38. "The Role and Consequences of the Death Penalty in American Politics", New York University Review of Law and Social Change: challenging the Death Penalty: A Colloquium, Vol. XVIII No. 3 1990-91. Return to Text
  39. Id. pp. 715-16 Return to Text
  40. See Bowers and Pierce, "Deterrence or Brutalization: What is the Effect of Executions?" 26 Crime and Delinquency 453 (1980) Return to Text
  41. Supra n. 3 at p. 751 Return to Text
  42. (1987) 1 SCC 467 : 1987 SCC (Cri) 181 : AIR 1987 SC 692 Return to Text
  43. (1988) 4 SCC 456 : 1988 SCC (Cri) 978 Return to Text
  44. A section of transcendentalists, who claim that punishment should be treated as an end in itself, point to the dangers of justifying punishment merely on the basis of benefits to the society or making the criminal a means for achieving some other end. They is a way limit the deployment of punishment strictly to situations where it is "just" to punish. See in particular H.L.A. Hart and John Rawls views on this. Return to Text
  45. Supra note, 34 to 37 Return to Text
  46. Supra note 37 Return to Text
  47. Supra note 34 Return to Text
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