In India, death sentences are awarded to convicts only if the courts deem the nature of crime as rarest of the rare. Despite this caveat, courts have awarded death sentences to a total of 1,734 convicts between 2005 and 2015, revealed a data analysis of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) by the website factchecker.in. However, what is telling is that out of these 1734 convicts, only three have faced the gallows, all of whom were involved in terror attacks.
On 21 November 2012, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only terrorist captured during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was executed in Pune’s Yerwada Jail. On 9 February 2013, Mohammed Afzal Guru, a convict in the 2001 Parliament attack case, was hanged inside Delhi’s Tihar jail. Yakub Memon was hanged to death on July 30, 2015, for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which 257 people were killed and around 700 were injured. Before them, Dhananjoy Chatterjee was executed back in August 2004 for raping and killing a school girl.
It is to be noted that all these executions took place under the presidency of former President Pranab Mukherjee, who rejected 30 clemency petitions in his tenure and left none for his successor to decide on. What’s more interesting is that even though Mukherjee disposed of every mercy petition that came to him, only three convicts were hanged to death. He did away with the petitions despite the fact that there is no time limit for a President to decide on a mercy petition.
In the same period (2005-15), sentences of 3733 death row convicts were commuted to life imprisonment. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh leads the pack with 345 death sentences commuted followed by a distant Maharashtra with 118 sentences and closely followed by Madhya Pradesh at 117. The data also reveals that 74,821 persons or 56 per cent of convicted inmates in Indian jails were serving a life imprisonment sentence as of 2015. The highest percentages of inmates serving life-terms were recorded in Daman & Diu (80 per cent), Puducherry (77.8 per cent), and UP (70 per cent).
National Law University (NLU), which carried the study that was the first of its kind, relayed that execution from 1947 to July 2015 number up to 755. However, a Times of India report dated March 10, 2005, claimed that People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), a civil liberty and democratic right organisation, unearthed government records which showed that 1,422 executions were carried out just in a single decade (1953-1964). If the records obtained by PUDR are to be believed, the figure for the real number of executions in the country should be much higher. The outfit has also demanded that actual figures be revealed.
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