Another small step

Indian Court overturns mandatory death penalty for drug offences

16 June 2011, Mumbai: In an unprecedented decision, the Bombay High Court struck down the mandatory death penalty for drug offences, becoming the first Court in the world to do so. Announcing the order via video conferencing, a division bench of Justices A.M Khanwilkar and A.P Bhangale declared Section 31A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) that imposes a mandatory death sentence for a subsequent conviction for drug trafficking ‘unconstitutional’. [...]

The High Court’s verdict came in response to a petition filed by the Indian Harm Reduction Network (IHRN), a consortium of NGOs working for humane drug policies, who assailed mandatory capital punishment as arbitrary, excessive and disproportionate to the crime of dealing in drugs. [...]

Across the world, 32 countries impose capital punishment for offences involving narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Of these, 13 countries (including India until today) prescribe mandatory death sentences for drug crimes.

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