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Law panel to submit its report on death penalty on Monday

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Law Commission, which is said to be in favour of abolishing death penalty except in terror-related cases, will present its report on the issue to the government on Monday. A draft report of the Law Commission is understood to have favoured abolition of the death penalty from the statute books, except in cases where the accused is convicted of involvement in a terror case.

At least two members of the panel have expressed their opposition to the draft report. In its draft report, the Commission is learnt to have pointed out that despite the landmark Supreme Court judgement in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab in which the apex court had laid down the “rarest of rare” doctrine and held that capital punishment should only be awarded in the “rarest of rare cases,” the application of death penalty “continues to remain excessive, arbitrary, unprincipled, judge-centric and prone to error”.

India is one of 59 countries where the death penalty is still awarded by courts. A Law Commission consultation process on the report saw a majority opposing death penalty.

The report assumes significance as it comes days after a debate was triggered over the hanging of Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon.

The Commission is working overtime to complete the report as its three-year term is coming to an end on August 31. The Supreme Court, in Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar vs Maharashtra and Shankar Kisanrao Khade vs Maharashtra, had suggested that the Law Commission should study the death penalty in India to “allow for an up-to-date and informed discussion and debate on the subject.”

In 1962, the Law Commission in its 35th report had recommended retention of death penalty.