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Dip in Award Of Death Sentences in India, 371 Prisoners On Death Row

The reports also stated the Supreme Court of India in 2017 confirmed seven death penalty verdicts but did not commute the sentence or acquit any death row, prisoner.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:January 25, 2018, 1:30 PM IST
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Dip in Award Of Death Sentences in India, 371 Prisoners On Death Row
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New Delhi: A total of 371 convicts were on the death row by the end of 2017, which is lower than that in 2016 when 399 persons were awarded death sentence, second edition of ‘Death Penalty in India, Annual Statistics Report’ Published by Centre on death penalty, National Law University, has reported.

The reports also stated the Supreme Court of India in 2017 confirmed seven death penalty verdicts but did not commute the sentence or acquit any death row, prisoner.

According to the report, one of these death penalty confirmations was a criminal appeal by four prisoners and two were review petitions by three prisoners.

This is in stark contrast to 2016 when the apex court did not confirm a single criminal appeal in death penalty cases. In 2015, the Supreme Court had considered the death sentences of nine prisoners and confirmed eight.

According to the latest data, there has been close to 55% increase in the number of persons sentenced to death for murder involving sexual violence in the country.

“There were total 24 people sentenced to death for murder involving sexual violence in 2016, but there are 43 people who have been sentenced to death for murder involving sexual violence in 2017,” the report quotes.

The last conviction in 2017 for a murder for sexual violence was by a local court in Srinagar in a case where a six-year-old girl was murdered after being raped. In the judgment, second additional sessions Judge Srinagar, Tahir Khurshid Raina, holding that it as a rarest of rare cases, awarded the death penalty to convict Farooq Ahmad Pinzoo of Mehjoor Nagar, Srinagar for raping and murdering the girl.

In 2017, the High Courts had decided 99 death penalty cases out of which it commuted the death penalty for 53 persons and delivered acquittal in 35 other cases thus confirming only 11 cases of death penalty.

The total number of persons sentenced to death by Sessions Courts also came down in 2017. From 149 in 2016 to 109 in 2017, persons sentenced to death by Sessions Courts saw a substantial dip.

“2017 has been a year that presents significant challenges for the study of the death penalty in India. While there has been a drop of nearly 27% in the number of prisoners sentenced to death by Sessions Courts in 2017 (compared to 2016), there have been significant legislative developments that expand the role of the death penalty in the Indian penological imagination,” the report said.

A state-wise breakup shows that out of all states, Maharashtra has delivered the maximum amount of death sentences (23) in 2017. Uttar Pradesh remained at second spot with 19 convictions and the third spot was with Tamil Nadu with 13 convictions.

The last major death sentence conviction in Maharashtra was in November 2017, where, a court in Ahmednagar awarded the death sentence to three accused involved in the 2014 Loni Mawala gangrape and the murder of an 11th standard girl. Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had demanded the death sentence for all three accused. The court termed it as a rarest of rare case and awarded the capital punishment.

The data also shows that even mercy before the President has shown a downward trend. In 2017, the President rejected five out of nine mercy petitions, whereas four sentences were commuted.

In 2016, the President had commuted the sentence of only one prisoner. The president rejected four other mercy petitions.


| Edited by: Puja Menon
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