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Death Row convicts mostly backward, uneducated and first time offenders, reveals NLU-D Death Penalty report [Read Report]

95% of death sentences imposed by the trial courts either commuted or resulted in acquittals at the appeal stages.

The Centre on the Death Penalty has published much awaited Death Penalty India Report today. In the function held today in Teen Murti Bhavan, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Ms. Nitya Ramakrishnan and Dr. Anup Surendranath discussed the report.

Most important finding in the reports seems to be on the Socio educational background and the previous crimeAnup Surendranath history of the prisoners. The report says that most of them are backward, uneducated and first time offenders with no previous crime history.Another interesting and shocking finding of the report is that out of 1,486 death sentences imposed by the trial courts,only 4.9% (73 prisoners) remained on death row after the appeal in the Supreme Court was decided

Following are some interesting statistics published in the Death-Penalty-India-Report.

  • 1810 prisoners sentenced to death in India from 2000 to 2015
  • 373 prisoners on death row in India from 20 states & 1 UT interviewed for the purpose of this report, between June 2013 to Jan 2015; 361 males & 12 females
  • About 60% prisoners are convicted for the offence of murder simplicitor, 20% for sexual offences. (Pg15)
  • Uttar Pradesh (79), Bihar (53), Karnataka (45), Maharashtra (36) and Delhi (3) are the top 5 states with the highest number of prisoners sentenced to death for different crimes(Pg9)
  • Amongst the 373 prisoners sentenced to death penalty, 361 were men and 12 were women. While Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of prisoners sentenced to death (79) in absolute numbers, Delhi had the largest proportion in terms of the prisoners sentenced to death in comparison with the population. (Pg8)
  • 87% of the prisoners sentenced to death had no previous criminal record (Page 19)
  • About 74% of the prisoners on death row are economically vulnerable and about 63% among them are sole or primary earners for their family (Pg22)
  • 78% death row prisoners have not studied beyond Secondary school and majority of them has not even completed Secondary.
  • Among the death row prisoners, about 34.6% are OBCs, 24.5% are SC/STs, and 24% are from General category and 20. 7% are Religious minorities. (Pg24)
  • 29 of 31 prisoners who were sentenced to death for terror offences (93.5%) were Scheduled Castes or religious minorities, with 19 of them being Muslims (61.3% of the total 31 prisoners)
  • 2% said that their lawyers did not discuss case details with them. Further, 76.7% of the prisoners who spoke regarding meetings with trial court lawyers said they never met their lawyers outside court and the interaction in court was perfunctory. At the High Court, 68.4% of the prisoners never interacted with or even met their High Court lawyers. (Pg28)
  • 80% of the prisoners in the study who spoke about their experience in police custody admitted to having suffered custodial torture. Not only was the number astonishing, the methods employed by the police while inflicting torture were inhuman, degrading and inflicted extreme forms of physical and mental suffering. (Pg31)
  • 1,486 death sentences imposed by the trial courts for which the outcome across the appellate stages could be traced, only 4.9% (73 prisoners) remained on death row after the appeal in the Supreme Court was decided. (Pg43)
  • 95% of death sentences imposed by the trial courts either commuted or resulted in acquittals at the appeal stages

The Death Penalty Research Project is being carried out by National Law University, Delhi in collaboration with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), and was approved by Honourable Justice Sathasivam in his capacity as the Executive Chairman of NALSA. The Project seeks to create a socioeconomic profile of death row prisoners across India as well as map their interaction with the criminal justice system at different levels. The project, spearheaded by Dr. Anup Surendranath (Director) and Ms. Neha Singhal (Deputy Director), comprises over fifty researchers and seeks to achieve a deeper understanding of how the socioeconomic background of these prisoners influences their access to the criminal justice system, and how the system itself impoverishes those who seek access to it.

Read the full text of the report – Summary, Volume 1 and Volume 2.

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