India votes against UN resolution on death penalty ban

India was among the 39 countries that voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution which called for abolishing the death penalty, saying every nation had the "sovereign right" to determine its own legal system.

The non-binding resolution called for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. It was adopted on Monday at the General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with social and humanitarian issues, after 110 nations voted in favour of the resolution while 36 abstained.

The draft resolution expresses its "deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty and calls on states to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the practice". It calls on nations to progressively restrict the death penalty's use and not impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons under age 18 or pregnant women.

States would also be called on to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty might be imposed.

India said each state had the sovereign right to determine its own legal system. "The draft resolution sought a moratorium on executions. India could not support the text in its present form," India said in its explanation of the vote.

An Indian delegate participating in the vote added that the practice of death penalty was exercised only on the "rarest of occasions" in India and the country's laws contained provisions for suspending the death penalty in the cases of pregnant women. The delegate further said that in India death sentences must be confirmed by a superior court and the accused had the right to appeal to a superior court or the Supreme Court.

Among the nations voting against the resolution were Bangladesh, China, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan and the US. Those who voted in favour included Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Russia, Nepal, South Africa and UK.

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