Lower courts handed more death sentences

Lower courts handed more death sentences

Lower courts handed more death sentences

While local courts handed 136 death sentences last year, almost twice the numbers given in 2015, acquittals by higher courts tripled, a new study has found.

The “Death Penalty in India: Annual Statistics 2016” prepared by the Delhi-based National Law University (NLU) also said that there are 397 prisoners on the death row in India.

The country’s sessions courts appeared more inclined to award death  sentences as there was a 94% rise in death penalties in 2016, a substantial jump compared to 2015 when there were only 70 judgements awarding the capital punishment.

Also, considering the significant number of acquittals and commutations by the higher courts, questions have been raised over the local courts’ rationale in handing death sentences.

In 2016, high courts commuted 44 death sentences, as against 15 in 2015, while the Supreme Court commuted seven death sentences against just one in the year before.

Also, the high courts acquitted 14 people last year -against three the year before- and confirming the sentences of 15, while the apex court freed three death convicts as against none in 2015.

A Private Member’s resolution moved by CPI MP D Raja in the Rajya Sabha earlier had said that the Supreme Court itself has “admitted to errors and miscarriage of justice due to arbitrary application of death penalty”.