While awarding a death sentence, the Courts in India clearly specifies that the convict is ” to be hanged by the neck till death”. The Section 345 (5) of Code of Criminal Procedure (1898) clearly states that “when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that the person be hanged by neck till the person is dead”. Even if we try to make a logical sense of this sentence, that a person be hanged (without mentioning the death part), it’s very well understood that he be killed but the law is followed as it’s written. In this case, if the person does not die but his neck have nearly broken, it could cause him immense pain and this very well defeats the purpose of capital punishment that is awarded to ensure swift death (without making him suffer). The sentence has been carried and the Court’s order has been adhered to.
The world is gradually moving towards abolition of death sentences and in countries where it’s legal, they try to make it less torturous barring a few countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran where barbaric methods of execution still continue.
According to a report in The Tribune, it was Motilal Nehru, an eminent lawyer and the legendary father of Jawahar Lal Nehru, who brilliantly played with the words of the law while defending his client who was charged with blowing up a British officer’s horse carriage. The magistrate ordered the young man to be hanged in public. Surprisingly, Nehru welcomed the judgment and walked away. On the day of the convict’s execution, as soon as he was hung, Nehru sent men to hold on to his leg and rescued him. When the matter was taken to court, Nehru pleaded not guilty.
In favour of his plea, he argued that the magistrate had written the death sentence as “hang him”. And the man had been hung. The sentence did not say “hang him until death”. So a defendant could not be tried on the same charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction. That is called Double jeopardy. After a subsequent amendment to the law for capital punishment had inserted “hang until death.”