India has opposed a United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, arguing it goes against Indian law and the sovereign right of countries to determine their own statutes.
The resolution before us sought to promote a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. My delegation, therefore, has voted against the resolution as a whole as it goes against Indian statutory lawMayank Joshi, Counsellor at India’s UN Mission
Nevertheless, the resolution was adopted with 115 votes in favour to 38 against, with 31 abstentions following an “intense discussion” after an acrimonious debate and the adoption of an amendment to recognise the sovereign rights of nations to determine their own laws, a UN statement said.
Meanwhile, India’s representative Mayank Joshi, supported an amendment reaffirming sovereign right to develop domestic legal systems.
“Every State has the sovereign right to determine its own legal system and appropriate legal penalties.” However, it did not mollify India, which voted against the amended resolution.
The resolution calls upon all States that still maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and to respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty.
It also urged to nations to make available relevant information with regard to their use of the death penalty to restrict progressively the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed.
Explaining India's stance on the issues, Joshi said: “In India, the death penalty is exercised in the 'rarest of rare' cases, where the crime committed is so heinous as to shock the conscience of society.”
However, death penalty has always been a contentious topic in India. In the last 12 years India has executed three convicts in terrorism cases and all of them were met with widespread controversies.
Last year Yakub Memon, who was charged for financing the 1993 Mumbai bombings, was executed. Muhammad Afzal, convicted of plotting the 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, was hanged in 2013 and Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, one of the terrorists involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack was executed in 2012.