Highest Number Of Death Penalties Awarded By Trial Courts In 2018 Since 2000

Team SoOLEGAL 29 Jan 2019 10:30am

Highest Number Of Death Penalties Awarded By Trial Courts In 2018 Since 2000

There were 162 death penalties were awarded by trial courts in 2018.”

Death penalty in India: Annual Statistics 2018 says that 162 death penalties are the highest in a calendar year since 2000, duly released by Project 39A under the auspices of National Law University Delhi.

The annual report (third edition of the project), also reveals a rising trend to award death penalty in non-homicidal cases, following the amendments to IPC and POCSO Act prescribing death sentence for sexual crimes against children.

The report makes a special discussion of the fact that Justice Kurian Joseph called for reconsideration of the constitutionality of death penalty in the case Chhannu Lal Verma v State of Chattisgarh.

Key takeaways from the report: “In 11 cases, SC converted death sentence to life imprisonment, which was confirmed in 3 cases.

Supreme Court ruled that there cannot be "in limine" dismissals of SLPs challenging death sentences, 22nd November, 2018. SC also recognized the right of death row convicts to ask mental health professionals and interact with family members.

In High Courts, out of 110 death sentence cases, 58 were commuted; 23 resulted in acquittals. Therefore, 23 cases were confirmed and 10 cases were remanded. 22 death penalties by Madhya Pradesh were ranked the first in awarding death penalty, which is a drastic jump from the figure of 6 in 2017. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were the only 2 states which awarded death penalty under the 2018 IPC amendment and hence, President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition filed by Jagat Rai, 3rd April. The cumulative figure of prisoners sentenced to death penalty was 426 on December 31, 2018 and in 2017, it was 366.

The report raises concerns about the policy adopted by Madhya Pradesh Government to prize public prosecutors for protecting death sentences. Protection of a death penalty will prize a prosecutor with 1000 points. The prize system also awards titles like "Best Prosecutor of the Month", "Pride of Prosecution" etc.

The report voices the concern that the system interferes with "prosecutorial independence". It also emphasis the fact that many cases of death penalty were remanded by HC after observing glaring irregularities in the trial court procedure like recording the statement of witnesses in the absence of accused, not giving opportunity to accused to give statement under Section 313 CrPC, lack of hearing on sentence, failure to provide free legal aid etc.

Tagged: penalty   313CrPC   SC   HC   Trial court   162 death penalties  
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