Comprehensive Analysis of the Annual Death Penalty in India Report 2023

A Comprehensive Analysis of the Annual Death Penalty Report 2023 - Image depicting efforts by Israel and India to regulate their judiciaries
Comprehensive Analysis of the Annual Death Penalty in India Report 2023

The Annual Death Penalty Report 2023, compiled by Project 39A in association with the National Law University, Delhi, sheds light on various facets of the death penalty scenario in India. Examining data and trends from the year, the report provides crucial insights into the workings of appellate courts, concerns regarding trial proceedings, and recent legislative developments.

Key Findings:

Appellate Courts' Confirmations:

  • Only one death sentence was confirmed by a High Court in 2023, marking the lowest rate since 2000.
  • The Supreme Court did not confirm any death sentences, continuing a trend observed since 2021.
Decline in Case Disposal Rate:

  • There was a 15% decrease in the disposal rate of death penalty confirmation proceedings at High Courts.
  • The decline is attributed to the high death row population in the country.

Increase in Death Row Population:

  • By the end of December 2023, there was a 45.71% increase in the number of prisoners under death sentence compared to 2016.
  • The year witnessed the highest number of prisoners on death row in nearly two decades.

Trial Court Sentencing Patterns:

  • Majority of death penalty cases in trial courts were related to sexual offences, with homicidal rapes comprising more than 50% of the sentences.
  • Trial courts imposed death sentences in 86.96% of cases without adequate information on the accused, despite SC's directives.

Key Takeaways:

Concerns with Police Investigations and Trial Proceedings:

  • Acquittals and remands by the Supreme Court and High Courts highlight concerns regarding the quality of investigations and evidence appreciation by lower courts.
  • Instances of negligence in investigation were criticized by the higher courts.

Lack of Compliance with SC Mandates:

  • Trial courts often imposed death sentences without adhering to SC mandates, such as collecting psychiatric and psychological evaluation reports of the accused.

Recent Developments:

  • Internationally, countries like Ghana and Malaysia have made strides in death penalty laws, while India's Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) 2023 proposes an expansion of offences punishable by death.

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