The Death Penalty: A New Perspective in Light of Santosh Bariyar Case
Autri Saha & Pritika Rai Advani
Volume 2 Issue 4 (2009)
The recent decision of the Supreme Court in Santosh Bariyar is a welcome step in India’s death penalty jurisprudence, in that it revisits the case of Bachan Singh as the defining law on the subject. The judgment calls for the prosecution to show by leading evidence that there is no possibility of rehabilitation of the accused and that life imprisonment will serve no purpose. This article essentially seeks to explore the ramifications of this judgment on India’s death penalty jurisprudence. The article begins with an examination of the recent trend towards abolition of the death penalty, to mainly highlight that as the international community’s consensus against the death penalty grows, India is becoming increasingly isolated in its commitment to it. Then it seeks to discuss the changing climate in the body of India’s death penalty jurisprudence, by tracing the transition from ‘the death penalty as the rule and life sentence as the exception’, to the concept of ‘rarest of rare’ dictum. In the light of the above cases, the new standard laid down in the landmark Bariyar case will be examined and critically analyzed in light of the fact that it will have the fundamental effect of restricting the imposition of the death penalty drastically. Lastly, we will seek to answer the question whether the Bariyar judgment marks the end of death penalty in India.