Home / Politics / Policy /  Yakub Memon case: Death penalty in India, by the numbers

On 21 July, the Supreme Court of India rejected 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon’s curative petition against his death penalty.

He was scheduled to be hanged on 30 July, but following the SC’s rejection, Memon filed another petition in the apex court, seeking a stay on the same. That petition is due to be heard on Monday.

Yakub, a former chartered accountant, is the younger brother of Tiger Memon, the chief conspirator of the blasts that killed 257 people and left 713 injured. Memon was convicted on charges of criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting and facilitating in a terrorist act, illegal possession and transportation of arms and ammunition, and possessing explosives with intent to endanger lives.

Upon his conviction at a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court in July 2007, Memon was awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court in March 2013. Immediately after the Supreme Court upheld his punishment, Memon filed a mercy petition before President Pranab Mukherjee, who rejected his clemency plea in April 2014.

Memon has been behind bars since 1994, when he was arrested at the New Delhi railway station.

In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that the death sentence should be given only in the “rarest of the rare cases", in which, “the collective conscience of the community is so shocked that it will expect the holders of the judicial power to inflict death penalty".

Here are some numbers that explain death penalty in India:


Should the Supreme Court reject Memon’s last-ditch effort to save his life, Memon would become the fourth death row convict to be executed in the last 15 years, following Dhananjoy Chatterjee (2004), Ajmal Kasab (2012) and Afzal Guru (2013).

More than 64

The number of death sentences awarded by Indian courts in 2014, according to Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Report 2015. The report also says that India was among seven countries that carried out an execution in 2013.


As per recent Rashtrapati Bhavan records, only two death row convicts (out of 26) have had their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. The latest one includes a convict named Tote Dewan, whose death sentence was commuted to life in March this year, nearly 10 years after the Supreme Court upheld his punishment.


The total number of death sentences handed out by Indian courts between 1998 and 2013, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records.


During the 15-year period (1998-2013), Uttar Pradesh saw the maximum number of death sentences awarded at 506. Bihar and Madhya Pradesh followed with 178 and 162 death sentences, respectively, according to NCRB. Since Independence, too, Uttar Pradesh has carried out the highest number of executions at 366, according to The Death Penalty Research Project conducted by the National Law University (Delhi).


With 186 death sentences awarded, 2007 saw the highest number of death penalties awarded in a single year.


States or Union Territories with no executions so far. The list includes all of the North Eastern states, besides Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, among others.


Goa has executed only one death row convict (in 1978) since 1961, when Portuguese laws ceased to exist in the state, according to The Death Penalty Research Project conducted by the National Law University (Delhi). Interestingly, Portugal was the first country to abolish death penalty.

9 September 1947

On this date, Rasha alias Raghuraj Singh became the first death row convict to be executed in independent India. Singh, who as per records was aged 27, was hanged in the Jabalpur Central Jail in modern-day Madhya Pradesh.


While many women have been awarded the death sentence, none have been executed thus far. The most prominent death row convicts include Seema Mohan Gavit and Renuka Shinde. The Supreme Court upheld their death sentence in 2006, and their mercy petition was rejected by the President in July 2014.

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