• Capital punishment or the death penalty is being imposed in several countries as a punishment for criminals of heinous offences.
  • As of 2022, the death penalty is completely abolished in 111 countries. 53 countries including India, the US, and Singapore still practice the death penalty as one of the punishments.
  • The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution – ‘UN moratorium on the death penalty‘ in 2007. On 15th December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 9th resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. It received 125 votes in favour, 37 votes against, 22 abstentions and 9 absentee votes.

No – The death penalty should not be abolished:

  • Capital punishment for criminals can act as a deterrent.
  • If such dangerous criminals that deserve the death penalty are allowed into society again, the security of citizens will be at stake.
  • Saudi Arabia has a very low rate of crime because it imposes the death penalty and other severe punishments.
  • Values and morals must be protected by imposing maximum punishment for criminals.
  • As of now, in India, the death penalty is imposed only in the rarest of rare cases such as terrorism.
  • The criminals, who are incapable of being reformed don’t deserve to live.

Yes – The death penalty should be abolished:

  • There are four purposes of punishment – Reformation, Revenge, Protection, and Deterrence.
    • Reformation: If the death penalty is imposed, there will be no chance of reformation.
    • Revenge: Revenge can be taken by other alternatives of punishment not just only by the death penalty. The death penalty will not let the criminal know the pain. Life imprisonment may fulfil this one.
    • Protection: Society must be protected from criminals. Life imprisonment also fulfils this purpose.
    • Deterrence:  Statistics revealed that capital punishment could not decrease the number of crimes.
  • Capital punishment is irreversible. If the person is proven innocent after the death penalty, there will be nothing left to be done. It happened in a significant number of cases. Sparing the guilty person is better than taking the life of an innocent person.
  • Taking immediate action against criminals and imposing severe punishments can act as a deterrent instead of delayed punishments and the death penalty.
  • Capital punishment interprets society as violent cultured, bloodthirsty and revengeful.
  • Justice may not be achieved by the death penalty. Instead, it can be achieved by reforming the person and giving suitable punishment. But of course, it is not possible in all cases.
  • Criminals with no money are more likely to get capital punishment. We still don’t know how many of them actually committed the crime and how many were trapped in it because of poverty and the loopholes in the judiciary.
  • If the person is on death row, a lot of appeals and petitions need to be appealed and in the Indian judicial system, it requires a lot of money. Thereby those, who can’t afford it have to face the death penalty. – Again inequality and discrimination. And it’ll also create a lot of pain for the family of the criminal.
  • Indian Judiciary is not free from corruption, political power, money and muscle power. So, without eliminating these things or at least without reducing the impact of these things, the death penalty for individual crimes can’t be an appropriate punishment.
  • Deciding the severity of punishment lies in the hands of the judges. There are no certain rules for deciding which cases are rarest of rare. That raises ethical concerns.
  • The expenditure of the government on criminals, who are on death row is more when compared with the expenditure on criminals, who are in life imprisonment.
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There are a lot of ethical dilemmas involved in capital punishment. In most cases, the death penalty can be avoided. Life imprisonment is the best alternative to capital punishment. By imposing life imprisonment, we can reform the person. Even if he is not reformed, life imprisonment can act as a severe punishment and also as a deterrent. However, the criminals, who do heinous crimes and are incapable of being reformed must be given the death penalty, because they do not deserve to live, not even in prison.

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