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The Indian delegation to the U.N. General Assembly voted against abolishing the death penalty saying that every country has a right to determine their own legal system.
India Tuesday voted against the United Nations General Assembly draft resolution on the use of the death penalty as the resolution goes against India’s statutory law where the death penalty is pronounced in the “rarest of the rare” cases.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) of UNGA took up the resolution which was approved with 123 votes. 36 countries voted against it and 30 abstained from voting.
"In India, the death penalty is exercised in the 'rarest of rare' cases, where the crime committed is so heinous that it shocks the conscience of the society. Indian law provides for all requisite procedural safeguards, including the right to a fair trial by an independent Court, the presumption of innocence, the minimum guarantees for defense, and the right to review by a higher court," said Paulomi Tripathi, the First Secretary in India’s permanent mission to the U.N.
The resolution would have the UNGA call on all countries to respect international standards on the rights of the people facing the death penalty and ensure that the capital punishments are not applied on the basis of discriminatory laws or the arbitrary or discriminatory application of laws.
Singapore introduced an amendment on behalf of countries arguing on behalf of their sovereign right to develop their own legal systems. The committee approved the amendment with 96 in favor, 73 against, and 14 abstentions.
Tripathi said that India voted in favor of the amendment as it would let every country to determine their own legal systems. But India voted against the resolution as a whole.
The Indian delegate’s argument against the resolution also included Indian laws’ specific commutation of capital punishment in case of pregnant women or prohibition of executions of people with mental disabilities. She said factors like "poverty, socio-economic, psychic compulsions, undeserved adversities in life" are considered by courts when commuting capital punishment to life imprisonment.
At present, there are 371 Indians on death row as of December 2017. 109 prisoners were awarded capital punishment in 2017 only. However, four people were executed in the country in the last 13 years, three of them from the Muslim minority community and the other person from a lower class background.