news Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - 05:30
  By Chaitanya Mallapur & Devanik Saha for   The Supreme Court has upheld Yakub Memon's death warrant, the Governor of Maharashtra has rejected his mercy plea. With almost every legal recourse exhausted, Yakub Memon will be hanged at the Nagpur prison on Thursday if the President too rejects his mercy petition.   The death sentence handed to Yakub Memon, lone convict of the 1993 Mumbai serial bombings–is common in India, with 1,303 capital-punishment verdicts between 2004 and 2013, according to this National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) prison statistics report.   However, only three convicts were executed over this period, one each in West Bengal (2004), Maharashtra (2012) and Delhi (2013). India saw an execution-free period of seven years between 2004 and 2012.   On 14 August 2004, Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged at Alipore Central Jail in West Bengal on his 42nd birthday, convicted for the rape and murder of a teenage girl. On 21 November 2012, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab the only terrorist to have survivedthe 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was hanged in Pune’s Yerwada Jail. On 9 Februrary 2013, Mohammed Afzal Guru, a convict in the 2001 Parliament attack case was hanged inside Delhi’s Tihar jail.   In addition, 3,751 death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment during this period.   Former chartered accountant Memon is set to be hanged on 30 July 2015, the day he turns 53. A debate has now broken out over the verdict against him and the death sentence in general.   In July 2007, Yakub and 11 others were convicted and sentenced to death by a special court for planning or carrying out the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed nearly 260 people and injured 700.   In March 2013, the Supreme Court upheld Memon’s death sentence, while commuting the death sentence of 10 others (one died later) to life imprisonment.   2007: Year of death sentences   The most death sentences were awarded in 2007 (186), followed by 164 in 2005. That year—2005—1,241 death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, the most ever.     Uttar Pradesh awarded the most death sentences (318) over the last 10 years. Maharashtra was second with 108, followed by Karnataka (107), Bihar (105) and Madhya Pradesh (104).  Top 5 States (Prisoners Awarded Capital Punishment, 2004-2013)       These top five states comprise almost 57% of all capital punishments awarded in the country between 2004 and 2013.   In Delhi, 2,465 prisoners had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment (between 2004 and 2013). Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh were second with 303 death sentences commuted to life imprisonment, followed by Bihar (157) and West Bengal (104).  Top 5 States (Sentences Commuted To Life Imprisonment)     Delhi alone accounted for nearly 66% of all prisoners whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment between 2004 and 2013.  Death sentence abandoned by 160 countries–not India, China, US and Japan   About 160 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice while 98 have abolished it altogether, according to this United Nations report.   In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution towards the abolition of capital punishment and the protection of human rights when it endorsed a call for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.   Apart from India, other prominent countries that opposed the resolution to abolish the death penalty include China, Japan and United States.   In 2013, nearly 778 executions were reported in 22 countries, a 14% growth over 682 executions in 2012.   On Monday, Pakistan executed two murder convicts following a one-month break during the holy month of Ramzan. This adds to 176 executions since December 2014, after a six-year moratorium on the death penalty. ■  (Mallapur is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend and Saha is a freelance journalist based in New Delhi.)