Stop hanging to execute prisoners, says judge
Calling the process of hanging "inhuman", a Delhi judge says in a book that it is high time India embraced other forms of executing condemned prisoners.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Girish Kathpalia says cruelty in hanging is the reason why so many countries have replaced it with shooting or intravenous lethal injection to execute death row prisoners.
"Use of lethal injection is now recognised all over the world as the most acceptable and humane method of executing the death sentence," the judge says in his new book "Criminology and Prison Reforms" (LexisNexis). "Lethal injection involves the least pain and suffering to the convict undergoing the death sentence," he says in the 262-page book.
"Death as a result of hanging in most cases happens because of the asphyxia or strangulation which causes the lingering and painful death of the condemned person, while in case of use of lethal injection the pain caused is the pain of the prick, (after which) the convict becomes unconscious and dies in sleep."
Kathpalia says most countries were discarding hanging on account of its inhumanness and indecency and the pain it causes.
The book quotes from expert opinion reproduced in judicial verdicts to describe the inhumane nature of hanging.
The day before an execution, the prisoner goes through a harrowing experience of being weighed and having his neck and body measured to determine how long a rope he would need to be hanged.
There are times when the neck is reportedly not broken and the prisoner strangles to death. His eyes almost pop out of his head while his tongue swells and protrudes from the mouth.
The rope many times takes large portions of skin and flesh from the side of the face.
The book quotes the Law Commission of India as comparing in a consultation paper the three main methods of execution - hanging, shooting and lethal injection.
According to the consultation paper, the process of lethal injection takes only five to nine minutes to declare a person dead - in contrast to the 40 minutes taken when he is hanged.
In lethal injection, no mutilation takes place. It is also painless and swift besides being the best controlled way of execution.
The book says: "It is high time Indian system of executions be revisited and options other than hanging be analysed for the purpose of execution of the death sentence."
(Posted on 11-05-2014)