In 2022, the Sessions Court in India imposed 165 death penalties. This is the highest number in a single year in two decades according to a report published by National Law University, Delhi.

The report ‘Death Penalty in India: Annual Statistics 2022’ was released by Project 39A. Project 39 A is an advocacy group associated with the National Law University, Delhi.

What Did The Report Say?

In 2016, the highest number of prisoners was 400. According to the report, there is a rise in the number of prisoners on death row. As on December 31, 2022, the number has increased to 539. The report said, “The population on death row has steadily increased over the years, with 2022 representing a 40% increase in the population since 2015.

This rise in the figure can be traced back to the “extraordinary sentencing of 38 persons to death in Ahmedabad in a single bomb blast case, representing the largest number of persons sentenced to death in a single case since 2016.” The increase was also attributed to the low disposal rate of death penalty cases by appellate courts.

Also Read: Death Penalty – Should India Still Continue With It In Today’s Times?

Dominance Of Sexual Violence Cases

According to the report, cases of sexual violence dominated the rulings of the death penalty in India. The report said, “Cases involving sexual offenses constitute the majority (51.28%) of cases in which trial courts imposed the death penalty in 2022.”

The state of Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of convicts (100) on death row, out of which 32 were imposed in 2022. Gujarat had 61 convicts, and 46 convicts in Jharkhand, are on death row. Gujarat Sessions Court imposed the highest death penalty in 2022. It sentenced 51 convicts to death.

Only two women were sentenced to death last year. One of them was in Uttar Pradesh, while the other one was in Maharashtra. Both were accused of murder charges.

highest death penalty

Need For Reform In The Framework Of Law

The Supreme Court has laid emphasis on reform as a concept in the death penalty sentencing framework. The Court posits that it is the duty of the State to present evidence of the ‘improbability of reform’ before any person is sentenced to death.

The report said, “In light of the Supreme Court’s directions in Manoj v. State of Madhya Pradesh, it is worth mentioning that trial courts imposed death sentences, in 2022, in 98.3% of death penalty cases, without having any materials on mitigating circumstances of the accused and without any State led evidence on the question of reform.

The rise in the death penalty points toward the gaps in the inherent institutional framework. The bogging down of the judiciary with cases is due to the lesser recruitment of judges in the lower courts. Reforms are needed to bridge the gaps in the judiciary.

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Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: The Hindu, News 18, The Mint

Find the blogger: Katyayani Joshi

This post is tagged under: judiciary, the trial court, sessions court, highest death penalties, sentenced to death, sexual assaults, sexual violence, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Supreme Court Of India, reforms

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