Why Do The Death Sentence Announce As ‘Hang Till Death’?

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Why Not Just ‘To Be Hanged’?

The Indian Penal Code (1860) observes the Death sentence or Capital punishment in India. However, it opposes the article 21 of the Indian Constitution which states that no person shall be deprived of his life and liberty. Under Article 21, every person has the ‘Right to Life’ which has been guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. But it also has an exception which is the Death sentence.

The Indian Penal Code provides for the provision of a capital punishment for various offenses such as criminal conspiracy, murder, waging war against the nation, dacoity, and murder, rape, rarest of the rare case etc. But there has been a global trend to abolish the death sentence. However, India has yet not abolished the death sentence.

There are many ways by which the state end the life of the convict and in India capital punishment is inflicted on a convict by hanging him till death. But have you ever thought that why is it ‘Hang till death’ not ‘to be hanged’?


The Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) describes the procedure of death sentence under Section 354(5). It states that “When any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct the person to be hanged by the neck till he is dead.”

The law clearly depicts the explanation behind the phrase ‘Hang till death’ that the person has to be hanged by the neck till he dies. Using “To be hanged” could only mean that the person has to be hung not necessarily die due to hanging. The Indian law also observes that a person cannot be tried for the same offense more than once. Somehow, if a person survives the execution, cannot hang again. For any reason, if the execution of death is hindered, the person cannot be tried again.

The reason behind the phrase ‘Hang Till Death’?


There is a historical incident behind the usage of this phrase. It was the case of 1900’s when the revolt against the British rule was in full swing. The Court of law to punish a rebellious man who participated in the revolt against British Raj decided to award him the death sentence and declared him to be hung in front of the public.

The then freedom fighter and leading lawyer Pandit Moti Lal Nehru represented the man in the court. Indian had so much belief on him but he did not object to the punishment that shocked everyone. When the day of the sentence arrived, the man was brought to the place of execution. At that time when the man was hung, Nehru instantaneously demanded the authorities to halt the execution. Nehru asked the men standing near the accused man to hold the hanging accused man and save him by bringing him down. This move left everyone amused as the man was saved.


Then the matter was taken to the Court and the time of the Nehru’s argument came that made the history. Nehru said that as per the punishment the man was ‘to be hung’ and the same executed as he was hung. And Nowhere it is written that for how long the man was to be hung. If the sentence was like the accused man is to be hung until death, the things would have been different. Since an accused could not be punished twice for the same offense, it made the man free. After that, the amendment to the death punishment was made in the Indian law and the phrase ‘Hang till death’ came in usage while awarding the capital punishment.

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