The terms capital punishment, death penalty and execution are synonymous to each other and simply mean the punishment of death. Capital punishment has been the subject matter of one of the most controversial topics of discussion throughout history, which can be summed up in a single sentence i.e. whether death penalty is justified or not in terms of morality.м
Historians believe that in ancient times, the death penalty was inflicted as a course of religious obligation for instance it was the religious duty of the governing authority to inflict capital punishment on an offender being convicted for murder or was practiced in the context of compensation during the feudal era. A common perception among the jurists and historians is that the development of nations saw the decrease in the practice of death penalty.
The supporters of death penalty, usually termed as the conservatives, believe in the theory of punishment which entails retribution i.e. a person is to be punished for the wrong he committed. They believe that the offender is a threat to the community and needs to be eliminated from the society for the purpose of administration of justice and maintaining peace and tranquility. They also believe that the infliction of the death penalty on an offender serves as a deterrent upon the potential criminals in the society. On the other hand, the group of people opposing the death penalty believes in the reformative theory of punishment, i.e. the offender needs to be rehabilitated rather than being physically punished. Therefore they strongly believe that the offender is a psychological patient and needs to be treated. They also believe that the cause of the crime, rather than the crime itself needs to be looked after.
In the present day scenario, most of the countries widely disapprove of the practice of death penalty either in law or in practice. Many International treaties have been introduced and accepted in favor of abandoning the capital punishment. The United Nation Declaration of Human Rights enlists the right to life as a fundamental for any civilized state and the practice of death penalty is the violation this right in view of most of the jurists. The question that still remains unanswered is that, a comparative study of the Nations show that the Nations which have abandoned the capital punishment have crime rates quite higher than the crime rates of those which have supported and upheld it; therefore is the law aimed at protecting the right to life of the offenders or the victims of the said crimes?