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Centre on the Death Penalty, NLU Delhi report: 371 prisoners on death row as of 2017 end

Centre on the Death Penalty, NLU Delhi report: 371 prisoners on death row as of 2017 end

Bar & Bench

There are 371 death row convicts in India as on December 31, 2017. The statistics were released by the Centre on the Death Penalty, National Law University Delhi.

The total number of persons sentenced to death by Sessions Courts came down from 149 in 2016 to 109 in 2017.

As far as High Courts are concerned, death penalty cases of 99 persons were decided in 2017. Out of the 99, High Courts commuted the death sentences of 53 persons and acquitted the accused in 35 cases. The death sentences of 11 convicts were confirmed.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court heard death penalty cases of 7 convicts and confirmed all of them. Out of the 7 confirmations, one was a criminal appeal with 4 prisoners and two were review petitions with 3 prisoners. The apex court did not commute or acquit any prisoners in 2017.

This marks a departure from the trend witnessed in 2016, when the Supreme Court did not confirm a single criminal appeal in death penalty cases that came before it. In 2015, the Supreme Court had considered the death sentences of nine prisoners and confirmed eight.

A state-wise analysis of persons sentenced to death in 2017 reveals that Maharashtra leads the pack with 23. Close behind is Uttar Pradesh with 19, followed by Tamil Nadu with 13.

Another interesting piece of information is with respect to the number of persons sentenced to death for murder involving sexual violence. It has gone up from 24 in 2016 to 43 in 2017.

The President of India disposed of 9 mercy petitions in 2017. 5 out of the 9 disposed petitions were rejected and the other 4 were commuted. In comparison, in 2016, only one prisoner’s sentence was commuted by the President, whereas mercy petitions of 5 prisoners were rejected.

Read the full report below: