339 sentenced to death during 2011-13

Courts across the country have sentenced 339 people to death during 2011-13, the government said on Tuesday.

The highest number of death sentences was in 2013 when 125 people were sent to gallows while in 2012 it was 97. In 2011, the number was 117.

This was disclosed by Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary in Lok Sabha in a written reply.

While no one was executed in 2011, Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was hanged in 2012 and Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru was executed in 2013. While there was no execution last year, Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Memon was hanged on July 30.

Memon’s execution had rekindled the debate on abolishing death penalty with a section of civil society vociferously arguing for removing such punishment. Chaudhary said there are five cases of mercy petition, involving nine convicts, are pending under Article 72 of the Constitution. Article 72 gives the President power to grant pardons and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.

Meanwhile, Dr Kirit Premjibhai Solanki, a BJP Lok Sabha MP from Gujarat, is planning to move a Private Member’s Bill to amend Article 72 to put a time frame on dealing with petitions of those convicted in cases related to terrorism. A Parliamentary panel dealing with Private Member's Bills has examined the Bill and given its consent for introduction in Parliament.

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