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The idea behind this blog is to collect information on the death penalty in India and make it accessible. We are trying our best to put the latest information on the people who are currently on death row, the status of their cases, their mercy petitions and also the information on any death sentence across the country. Please feel free to write us and give us your suggestions and comments and also any information you have come across regarding the death penalty in India. Our email id is abolishdeathpenaltyindia@gmail.com The blog is currently managed by Grace Pelly, Lara Jesani, Nitu Sanadhya, Rebecca Gonsalvez, Reena Mary George and Vijay Hiremath. Kindly mark copies of the emails to: vijayhiremath@gmail.com reena.mary.george@univie.ac.at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Read Bhagat Singh's death warrant on his 84th martyrdom anniversary

IndiaToday.in  New Delhi, March 23, 2015 | UPDATED 17:02 IST

On 23rd March 1931, India witnessed the execution of three of its most influential and popular revolutionaries. As we pay homage to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on their 84th martyrdom anniversary on Monday, here is a picture of the death warrant of Bhagat Singh, issued to the superintendent of the Central Jail of Lahore, signed by the president of the tribunal.

The image has been doing rounds on the social media.

Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt threw a bomb inside the Central Assembly hall in New Delhi on April 8, 1929 to protest against the British rule in India. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were also tried for shooting and killing British Superintendent of Police Saunders on December 17, 1928, and were awarded the death sentence. Following a hasty trial of the Lahore Conspiracy Case, they were executed by the British a day earlier than the scheduled hanging in the Central Jail at Lahore at 7.15 pm on March 23, 1931.

Source: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/bhagat-singh-death-warrant-martyrdom-anniversary/1/425237.html [last accessed 09 April 2015]

India one of top 10 nations where death sentences were handed out last year

Kounteya Sinha & Anahita Mukherji, TNN | Apr 1, 2015, 06.35AM IST

LONDON/MUMBAI: Indian courts sentenced 64 people to death in 2014, making India one of the top 10 in a list of 55 countries where such sentences were handed out last year.

India was also one of seven countries that had executed people on 2013, but carried out no executions in 2014, Amnesty International's Death Penalty Report 2015 released on Tuesday noted.

The figures from India mirror worldwide data, which shows a 22% decrease in executions in 2014 compared with the previous year, but a 28% increase in death sentences when compared with 2013.

While at least 607 people were executed worldwide in 2014, 2,466 were sentenced to death. Three countries — Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — were responsible for 72% of the 607 recorded executions.

The figure for executions represents the minimum number of people executed, as data on the death penalty is a state secret in Belarus, China and Vietnam, while little or no information was available from countries like Syria and North Korea.

Though China does not release official figures for the death penalty, Amnesty International monitored executions in the country and found them to be more that the rest of the world put together.

Amnesty has taken a clear stand against the death sentence. "Governments using the death penalty to tackle crime are deluding themselves. There is no evidence that the threat of execution is a greater deterrent to crime than any other punishment," Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty said. 

"Governments must stop justifying judicial killing on the notion that it has a unique deterrent effect," added Amnesty's death penalty expert Chiara Sangiorgio.

The Death Penalty Research Project of the National Law University (Delhi) found 270 people in India were currently on death row, while eight had their mercy petitions rejected in 2014.

The 64 new death sentences handed out in India last year were for murder and, for the first time since the 2013 amendment to the criminal law, for rape by repeat offenders.

"In India, as with a lot of other countries, violence against women has been used to justify the death penalty. And yet, study after study across the world shows that there is no proof that death penalty is a greater deterrent for crime than imprisonment," said Shailesh Rai, senior policy advisor at Amnesty International India.

He said handing out death sentences is mere tokenism, and evades the real problem which can only be solved through judicial and police reforms.

"The conviction rate for rape in India is 27% and this is only for cases that make it to the trial stage. Only one in 100 cases of sexual violence are reported. When the certainty of punishment is so low, increasing the severity of punishment at the end of a long and tedious process makes for a false argument in support of the death sentence."

The execution of Afzal Guru, points out Rai, is an instance where the death penalty was used as a political tool, rather than a tool for criminal justice. India hanged him in secret in February 2013.

In a landmark judgment in January 2014, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of 15 people — 13 on the grounds of an inordinate delay in hearing their mercy petitions, and two on the grounds of mental illness.

The judgment noted that an "undue, inordinate and unreasonable delay in execution of death sentence amounted to torture".

The Asia-Pacific region recorded a decline in the number of death sentences in 2014 compared with the previous year, largely because Bangladesh recorded a very high number of death sentences in 2013.

Pakistan lifted a six-year moratorium on executing civilians after the attack on a Peshawar school. Incidentally, the US is the only country in the Americas to carry out executions.

From 1995 to 2014, Amnesty recorded a 66% increase in the number of countries abolishing the death penalty, from 59 to 98.

During this period, there has also been a nearly 50% decline in the number of countries carrying out executions, which came down from 41 to 22.

Death Sentence And Executions 2014: Amnesty International report

Executions took place in 22 countries in 2014, the same number of countries as in 2013

At least 607 executions were carried out worldwide, a decrease of almost 22% compared with 2013. (China not included, doesn't share data)

At least 2,466 people are known to have been sentenced to death in 2014, a 28% increase compared with 2013 (largely because of Egypt/Nigeria)

7 countries, including India that executed convicts in 2013 did not do so in 2014

While the government of India scheduled several executions in 2014, none were carried out

Over 64 people in India sentenced to death in 2014

270 people in India were under the sentence of death and that eight people had their mercy petitions rejected in 2014

Pakistan lifted 6-year moratorium on the execution of civilians in the wake of the Peshawar school attack.

Commutations or pardons of death sentences recorded in 28 countries including India.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/India-one-of-top-10-nations-where-death-sentences-were-handed-out-last-year/articleshow/46764947.cms [last accessed 09 April 2015]

Kanpur - SO’s killer given death sentence

Faiz Rahman Siddiqui, TNN | Mar 31, 2015, 09.07AM IST

KANPUR: The district and sessions judge of Farrukhabad sentenced a history-sheeter, accused of killing a police officer, to death on Monday. 

Accused Chandra Prakash Kori had shot dead SHO of Kotwali Raj Kumar Singh on November 30, 2014. 

A team from Kotwali police station, headed by Raj Kumar Singh, had arrived at Lakula Bagh Rustam area to arrest Kori in connection with the murderous attack on corporator Rakesh Gangwar. When the police asked him to surrender, Kori took out a firearm and shot at inspector Raj Kumar Singh from close range. 

Singh suffered bullet injuries on his chest and fainted on the spot. He was rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Farrukhabad, where doctors pronounced him dead. Later, policemen chased and arrested Kori after a brief exchange of fire. The police had claimed to recover a country-made pistol of 315 bore and several cartridges from Kori. 

The country-made gun used in killing Singh was purchased by the accused for Rs 3,500 from an arms dealer in Kiratpur area of the district. 

The police registered a case against Kori under Section 302 (punishment for murder), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 25/27 Arms Act. 

The court ruled that the case was rare and that accused should be given harshest punishment. 

District and sessions judge Rajan Chaudhary ordered accused be hanged till death. 

The family members of the deceased SHO said: "We were hopeful that court will announce death sentence to the accused. Now, no criminal will dare to attack a police official." 

Raj Kumar Singh had taken charge of SHO Farrukhabad Kotwali police station on October 10, 2014 after being transferred from Hamirpur district. A native of Rae Bareli, he had joined UP police service as a sub-inspector in 1984. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. 

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/SOs-killer-given-death-sentence/articleshow/46753452.cms [last accessed 09 April 2015]

West Bengal - Man gets death sentence, mother life

Press Trust of India  |  Berhampore (WB)  March 26, 2015 Last Updated at 21:07 IST

A man was awarded death sentence and his mother life imprisonment by a local court today for gouging out the eyes of a child and strangulating him to death about six years ago.

Berhampore additional district judge Anita Mathur passed the order against Babu Mollah (35) and his mother Manjuma (60). 

Five-and-a-half-year-old Sohail Biswas, son of a neighbour, was enticed by Manjuma to their house at Durlabhpara village in Jalangi on April 6, 2009. 

The two gouged out the child's eyes and Mollah, who is visually impaired, strangulated him to death. The search for the missing boy ended after his body was found in a gunny bag from a pond near his home four days later. 

A complaint was lodged with the police by Sohail's parents and Manjuma was arrested after villagers said they had seen her throwing the bag into the pond. 

During the trial the two confessed that they had gouged out the child's eyes to facilitate cornea transplant for Mollah. They then strangulated him out of fear of being caught. 

The court had passed a similar order in the case on August 30, 2013. The mother and the son had approached Kolkata High Court which then sent back the case for the review. The court upheld its earlier judgement today.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/man-gets-death-sentence-mother-life-115032601228_1.html [last accessed 09 April 2015]

Bihar: Four suspected Maoists get death sentence in murder case

Press Trust of India  |  Sheohar (Bihar)  March 30, 2015 Last Updated at 21:13 IST

court in Bihar's Sheohar district today awarded death sentence to four suspected Maoists convicted in the murderof five people in an attack at a village in Bihar's Sheohar district five years ago. 

Additional District and Sessions Judge Sampoornand Tiwari sentenced to death Ugan Ram Atkoni, Hamid Ansari, Santosh Sah and Bhagirath Sah, suspected Maoists, after finding them guilty in the murder of five people Raman Village on May 11, 2010. 

The victims - Mukesh Rai, father Siyaram Rai, uncle Sribhagwan Rai, Manohar Thakur and Vishwat Thakur - were hacked to death, Public Prosecutor Shalendra said. 

Subodh Kumar, now a mukhiya of Rohua panchayat, had lodged an FIR after the attack.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/four-suspected-maoists-get-death-sentence-in-murder-case-115033000942_1.html  [last accessed 09 April 2015]

President Pranab Mukherjee commutes death penalty of Assam man

Ten years after a man was awarded death sentence for killing his wife, two minor sons and a neighbourhood woman in upper Assam, President Pranab Mukherjee has commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. This is a rare case where the President has accepted the mercy petition of a person convicted for gruesome murders. Earlier, Mukherjee had rejected mercy petitions of 22 death row convicts at a stretch. Man Bahadur Dewan alias Tote Dewan, now 63-years-old and lodged in Jorhat Central Jail, rarely had a visitor all these years as his surviving son and daughter had shunned him after the crime.

According to the prosecution, Dewan, a resident of Sessapukhuri Nepali basti under Moranhat police station in Sivasagar district, nearly 420 km east of Guwahati, had picked up a quarrel with his wife Gouri (35) on September 29, 2002. That night, though the quarrel came to an end with his wife preferring to remain silent, Dewan remained restless, until he woke up around 4 am, picked up a dao (machete), and hacked her to death. He then also hacked his two sons Rajib (10) and Kajib (who was just about eight months old) and started looking for his another son Raju and daughter Jyotimaya.

Raju and Jyotimaya, however, had already run away the previous night on seeing their father getting violent during the quarrel, and were sleeping in the house of a relative. Dewan, who came out of the house with the dao first knocked at the door of Prasad Dewan and Bijoy Dewan, but as the two did not open the door, he proceeded to the next house which belonged to one Raj Kumar Dewan. There he found Raj Kumar’s 60-year-old mother Bidhimaya in the compound, and even without uttering a word simply inflicted two blows with the dao on her neck.

Dewan then returned to his house, picked up the severed head of son Rajib, put it in a plastic bag and proceeded to Moranhat police station where he surrendered. While Dewan was awarded death sentence by the then Sivasagar Sessions Judge B D Agarwal on December 26, 2003. Later the Gauhati High Court and the Supreme Court rejected appeals against death sentence. He then filed a mercy plea before the Assam governor on September 2, 2005, who rejected it on December 23, 2013. He then sent the plea to the President on February 10, 2014.

The President is believed to have relied upon the opinion of the Home Ministry which had advised him to take a lenient view of the case. The Ministry is learnt to have advised Mukherjee that Dewan is from a poor background and murdered his wife, sons and a neighbour due to abject poverty and unemployment.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/president-pranab-mukherjee-commutes-death-penalty-of-assam-man/ [last accessed 09 April 2015]
Indian Express 09 April 2015

Assam - Reprieve for death row convict- President commutes Jorhat jail prisoner's sentence to life

Saturday , March 28 , 2015 

Jorhat, March 27: The commutation of the death sentence of Bahadur Dewan alias Tote Dewan - a death row convict lodged at the Central Jail Jorhat - to life sentence by President Pranab Mukherjee yesterday has ended the uncertainty in the prisoner's life.

The prisoner had filed a mercy petition before the President almost a year ago. Earlier, a similar mercy petition had remained pending with the Assam governor for eight years, with the then governor J.B. Patnaik rejecting the plea on December 23, 2013. Dewan, 66, had sent his mercy petition to Rashtrapati Bhavan through the jail authorities, who forwarded it to the state home department on February 10, 2014.

Dewan had requested jail officials to assist him in filing the mercy petition to the President, as he has no family and no one has come to the jail to meet him till date, prison sources said. Dewan, who hails from Seshapukhuri Nepali Basti under Morhanhat police station in Sivasagar district, had hacked to death his wife Gouri, 35, sons Rajib, 10, and eight-month-old Kajib, and neighbour Budhimaya Dewan, 60, on September 30, 2002.

He reportedly had a quarrel with his wife the night before and after waking up early next morning, he picked up a dao (machete) and hacked Gouri and their two sons to death. He then knocked on the door of his neighbour Budhimaya and when she opened it, killed her as well. He has been lodged in Central Jail Jorhat since he was shifted from Sivasagar District Jail on April 12, 2004. The death sentence was awarded to him by the Sivasagar district and sessions court on December 26, 2003 followed by confirmation of the sentence by Gauhati High Court on April 28, 2005, and then by the Supreme Court on August 8, 2005.

Central Jail Jorhat, jailor Sanjib Kumar Chetia told The Telegraph that no official communication has been received regarding commutation of the death sentence till late this afternoon. Chetia, however, said based on media reports, the authorities had informed Dewan about the development. "Some prison inmates read about it (commutation) in the newspapers and could have told Dewan, so we thought we should inform him before he comes to know about the matter from inmates," Chetia said. He added that Dewan was told that the official letter in this regard was yet to arrive. The jailor said Dewan, who mostly keeps to himself and hardly speaks with other prisoners, smiled on hearing that he has been spared the gallows.

Chetia said Dewan thanked the jail officials, who had drafted the mercy plea and asked him whether there was any legal option available to him to petition the government to set him free. The jailor had assured him (Dewan) that he would discuss the matter with his senior officials and let him know. Chetia said the death row convict works in the jail garden voluntarily and is very possessive about the flowers. "Dewan's conduct is good and he seldom interacts with jail staff and other inmates," he added. Chetia said Dewan earns Rs 55 a day for working in the jail garden and uses the money to buy necessary items. In his plea to the President, Dewan has said he committed the murders because of an "unsound state of mind" and later surrendered himself to police. "I had no motive to commit such a crime but owing to my mental insanity I could not control my rage. Sir, I have already spent 11 years in jail and I repent my act and assure you I shall never indulge in any kind of confrontation in jail........." Dewan said in his plea.

Source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150328/jsp/frontpage/story_11280.jsp#.VSZ5V_mUeQo [last accessed 09 April 2015]