The tendency of trial courts to impose death sentences is on the rise, if the third edition of the Death Penalty report by Project 39A of the Centre on Death Penalty at National Law University, Delhi (NLUD) is any indication.
As per the Death Penalty in India: Annual Statistics report, the year 2018 witnessed trial courts handing out 162 death sentences, a jump from the 108 awarded in 2017, and the highest number since 2000.
This tendency is also apparent in the legislative changes made last year, whereby the scope for imposition of the death penalty was expanded, particularly in the face of public outcry following the Kathua rape case.
On the other hand, the report notes that the Supreme Court chose to go in a different direction, commuting all but one of the death penalty cases that it heard in 2018.
The annual report provides an overview of the trends discernible as far as Indian courts are concerned, in addition to legislative changes and political developments. Key highlights in this regard include the following.
Imposition of Death Penalty at different levels