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Indian courts awarded death penalty to over 2,000 in 15 years

Representative photo of a noose

The debate over capital punishment may be still going on, but the courts in India awarded death penalty to 2,052 individuals between 1998 and 2013, a report released on Thursday said.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said it meant 186 individuals were sent to gallows every year during the period. In the first 13 years of this century, the number was 1,0677.

“The maximum number of death sentences was in 2007 when courts across India punished 186 individuals. In 2000, 165 individuals received death sentences while 164 individuals received the punishment in 2005. The least was 55 in 1998,” the report, released in the wake of a consultation by the Law Commission on death penalty, said. The commission’s consultation paper said there was no spurt in crime between 2000 and 2013 when no person who received death penalty was hanged. The consultation is being held on directions of the Supreme Court which wanted an informed debate on this issue.

One-fourth of the death penalties awarded were in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar (178) and Madhya Pradesh (162).

In 2013, Madhya Pradesh topped the list with 22 death sentences. Maharashtra took the fourth place followed by Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, in Karnataka, no death sentences were handed down between 1998 and 2013, the report said.

The report, based on National Crime Records Bureau data, said, “In Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur where the Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (AFSPA) is in force, the number of death sentences is lower,” the report said.

The period also saw death sentences of 4,497 persons commuted to life imprisonment by the courts.

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