Home/ News / India/  2022 saw highest death penalty cases by trial courts since 2002, 51% imposed on sexual offences

The number of death penalty rose to two decade high, as trial courts announced the capital punishment in 165 cases in 2022, according to ‘Death Penalty in India, Annual Statistics Report, 2022’ report. Moreover, more than 50% of them were imposed on sexual offences.

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A total of prisoners awarded with death sentence or living under death sentence increased last year. The report also stated that 539 prisoners were on death row by the end of 2022. The number was highest since 2016. In addition to this, the number of prisoners living under death sentence saw an increase of 40% since 2015, the report added.

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“The large death row population signals the continued imposition of a high number of death sentences by trial courts with a low rate of disposal by appellate courts," stated the report released by Project 39A of the National Law University (NLU).

The report also stated that approximately 51.28% of cases where death penalty was imposed belonged to sexual offences.

Highest death sentence in a single case since 2016

The report also found that the year also saw the highest death sentences in a single case since 2016. Under the bomb blast case, trial court imposed death sentence to 38 persons in Ahmedabad. The apex court and high courts have given verdict on 11 and 68 matters related to the capital punishment.

Death penalty of 3 prisoners out of 101 confirmed by HCs, and that of 2 out of 15 by SC

The report found that out of the 68 cases heard by high courts, that involved 101 prisoners, 48 death sentences were changed to life imprisonment, 43 were acquitted of all charges and six cases were remitted to the trial court. Out of the 101 only three cases were imposed with confirmed death sentence.

“From the 68 cases decided by the high courts, involving 101 prisoners, three prisoners had their death sentences confirmed, 48 saw their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, 43 were acquitted of all charges and six had their cases remitted to the trial court," the NLU report added.

Talking about the Supreme Court, 11 cases involving 15 prisoners , the court acquitted five of them from all charges. Death sentence of eight prisoners was commuted to life imprisonment. Whereas, death penalty for two prisoners was confirmed.

The acquittal decisions of the apex court noted the improper nature of investigations and procedural failures by the police, prosecution and trial courts, it said.

“Although appellate courts have continued to commute the majority of death sentences decided in the year, worryingly, these commutations have increasingly resulted in the imposition of life imprisonment without remission," the report said.

In 2022, a three-judge bench had referred the question of the time that must be given for sentencing in death penalty cases, among other aspects of sentencing death penalty.

(With agency inputs)

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Updated: 30 Jan 2023, 11:03 PM IST
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