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NLU Delhi’s Centre for Death Penalty has released its annual endeavour titled, “Death Penalty in India Annual Statistics 2016”. The brief 16-page report contains statistics of relevance for lawyers, students and those with a general inclination towards the legal field.
The report starts off with a foreword that makes no bones about the lack of transparency in accessing records relating to death penalty in India. It notes,
“Accessing accurate and updated statistics on the use of the death penalty in India is an enormous challenge. It is almost impossible to state with any kind of certainty the number of death sentences handed out in any given year or even know the exact number of prisoners under the sentence of death at any given point. Lack of updated records, ineffective data reporting and management practices, barriers to accessing official data that should be in the public domain are some of the reasons that have contributed to this situation…”
The report sets out some very interesting statistics about death penalty cases decided by the Supreme Court in 2016. Out of seven criminal appeals in death penalty cases that were decided by the Supreme Court in 2016, none were confirmed. This is a significant departure from 2015 when the Supreme Court considered the death sentences of nine prisoners and confirmed eight.
The report also gives a comprehensive view of the death penalty system in India.
The report contains a goldmine of data relating to sentencing, acquittals and confirmations across the country. It also details through a rather interactive map, the distribution of prisoners on death row as on December 31, 2016. The highest toll of these is in Uttar Pradesh, with 70 prisoners on death row.
Interestingly, many of the acquittals decided by the Supreme Court received major media attention, in particular the cases of Govindachamy (which spiralled into a major controversy involving an ex-judge of the court) and Dhal Singh. The confirmation of BA Umesh’s death penalty also grabbed limelight.
The power of the President to grant clemency also finds mention in the report. It might be pertinent to mention that out of the six requests for clemency, the President commuted just one, that of Jeetendra Singh Gehlot, although with a caveat. Gehlot is to spend the rest of his natural life in jail.
Read the full report below.