September 16, 2019
 In 2023-Use of the Death Penalty

Country: India
Delegate Name: Raksha Karunanithy

The discussion of the use of the death penalty holds a high significance to the Human Rights Council due to its direct fundamental implications for human rights. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) believes that the death penalty is not consistent with the right to live and to be free from torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishments. There is a growing consensus for the universal abolition of the death penalty. While international law doesn’t prohibit capital punishment, the majority of the world’s countries view the death penalty as a violation of human rights and not a reasonable punishment. In 2022, there were 833 executions in 20 different countries which is a 53% increase from 2021 which had 579 executions. 55 countries have retained and still use capital punishment to this day. While the Human Rights Council aims to abolish the death penalty internationally, they still haven’t been able to come to a consensus that satisfies every country’s needs.

The death penalty is a complex, and debated issue in the Republic of India as some officials advocate for it in circumstances such as terrorism and murder. Other officials may express concerns as the nature of this punishment is irreparable and if mistakes were made, innocent lives may be lost. As of right now, India has permitted the use of the death penalty only in very extreme circumstances such as acts of terrorism, and some cases of murder. As of January 2022, there has been a significant amount of public debate and advocacy referencing the use of the death penalty in India. Multiple human rights organizations, legal experts, and activists have increased concerns about the potential miscarriage of justice and the need for legal reforms of capital punishment. The Law Commission of India has reviewed the death penalty laws and aims to evaluate the fairness of capital punishment and to inspect potential reforms. India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1979 but still hasn’t ratified its Second Action Protocol which aims to abolish the death penalty (ICCPR-OP2). At UN discussions about the death penalty, India agreed with certain parts of the resolutions proposed such as only using capital punishment for the most heinous of crimes and making an exception for people with mental disorders. India believes completely abolishing capital punishment isn’t fair as certain crimes deserve that extent of punishment like acts of terrorism and some cases of murder. India has participated in multiple discussions regarding the death penalty and has emphasized the importance of respecting international law and human rights principles, but also considering an individual country’s cultural and legal values as well. While India is one of 54 countries that has retained the punishment of the death penalty, it has been dubbed as the “rarest of rare” as the death penalty is only used in the most exceptional circumstances of heinous crimes such as acts of terrorism, some cases of murder and aggravated sexual assault. According to Section 194 in the Indian Penal Code, fabricating evidence is punishable by the death penalty if it is done to obtain a capital conviction for a crime. Section 304 of the IPC imposes the death penalty for a person who commits murder. The death penalty in India is quite controversial due to individual beliefs and human rights and continues to have many debates on this issue.

The Republic of India emphasizes the sovereign right of nations to determine their decisions regarding the death penalty. The government argues that every nation should have the autonomy to establish its legal framework based on its individual cultural, social, and legal considerations. India proposes to leave the responsibility of deciding whether to keep capital punishment legal to each country instead of coming to one international consensus. If countries choose to retain it, then courts should not consider a criminal’s sentence based on their race, gender, or religion. If they abolish it, they should hold captives in correctional facilities or prisons where they live out their sentence based on the severity of the crime.

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