'Majority of death row convicts uneducated'

'Majority of death row convicts uneducated'

The National Law University’s study on death penalty has pointed out that most of the convicts are backward, uneducated and first time offenders.

A comprehensive study report published by the Centre on the death penalty revealed that out of 1,486 death sentences imposed by the trial courts, only 4.9% (73 prisoners) remained on death row after the appeal in the Supreme Court.

The report focussed on the death penalty in India, which undergoes through a “crisis-ridden criminal justice system”, made an elaborate study on the life of convicts awaiting death sentence in various prisons across the nation.

As many as 1,810 people were sentenced to death in India from 2000 to 2015. The Centre interacted with 373 prisoners on death row in 20 states and 1 Union Territory between June 2013 and January 2015 for preparing its report.

According to the report, Uttar Pradesh (79), Bihar (53), Karnataka (45), Maharashtra (36) and Delhi (3) are the top 5 states with the highest number of prisoners sentenced to death for different crimes. Out of the 373 prisoners sentenced to death penalty, 361 were men and 12 were women.

The study also showed in Gujarat, as many as 15 prisoners (79%) facing death penalty belonged to religious minorities, about 12% of the state’s population.

In Maharashtra, 18 prisoners (50%) were Dalits and Adivasis, who formed 20% of the state’s population while Kerala with 14 prisoners (93%) had the highest percentage of those sentenced to death from economically vulnerable communities.

As much as 80% of the prisoners in the study who spoke about their experience in police custody admitted to having suffered custodial torture. Not only was the number astonishing, the methods employed by the police while inflicting torture were inhuman, degrading and inflicted extreme forms of physical and mental suffering, the report stated.

The report also pointed out that 78% death row prisoners have not studied beyond Secondary school and majority of them have not even completed Secondary.

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