Friday, July 10, 2015

Why very few death sentences in states where "draconian" Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in force: Report

By Out Representative
A just-released report has said that the states which have a long history of conflict between government forces and militant groups have "fewer incidence" of death sentences being awarded. It says, Jammu & Kashmir and Manipur, where the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (AFSPA) is in force, the number of death sentences awarded are "much fewer compared to states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh."
It further states, "Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland where AFSPA has been extended repeatedly, have not witnessed a single instance of death sentence being handed down to anybody." In fact, between 1998 and 2013, the period of the study, in Jammu & Kashmir, all death sentences (22) were commuted, while in Manipur there were three death sentences, of which one was commuted.
The report, however, gives no reason, but the suggestion is obvious: Several human rights organizations have alleged for long that in states where AFSPA is in force, encounter killings in the name of fighting terrorism have been common. In fact, it is being "used" in lieu of capital punishment.
The report, “Award of Death Sentences and Commutations to Life Imprisonment", has been published on basis of prison data published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the years 1998-2013.It was prepared by Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Delhi, ahead of the Round Table on Death Penalty, organized by the Law Commission of India in Delhi on July 11.
Refusing to go into merits or demerits of death sentence, the report nevertheless says, "India is in a minority group of countries on the planet that retain capital punishment on their statute books."
During the period of the study, the report finds, in all 2,052 individuals were awarded capital punishment by courts in India. 
Of these, courts awarded the death sentence to 1,677 individuals during the first 13 years of the 21st century, the report states, adding, on an average more than 128 persons were sentenced to death per year.
The most number of death sentences handed down in any given year was 2007 when courts across India punished 186 individuals, the report says, adding, the least number of death sentences were awarded in 1998 (55 individuals). 
Uttar Pradesh, with 506 individuals awarded the death sentences, topped all the states in death sentence, accounting for almost a quarter (24.65%) of the total. With 178 individuals,Bihar stands 2nd in the list of States/UTs where the most number of death sentences were awarded by courts during the period 1998-2013. 
In Madhya Pradesh 162 individuals received the death sentence placing it 3rd on the list of States/UTs. In 2013, Madhya Pradesh topped the list of States/UTs where the most number of death sentences (22) were awarded, the report says.
While Maharashtra takes 4th place with 160 cases, Tamil Nadu is at the 5th place with 147 cases. In Karnataka, no death sentences were handed down between 1998-2003. All 107 death sentences were handed down during the years 2008 (22), 2010 (19), 2005 and 2007 (14 each), 2006 (13), 2012 (8), 2004 (7) and 2009 (5). In 2013 alone, 4 individuals received the capital punishment in Karnataka.
"Similarly", the report says, "No death sentences were awarded in Gujarat during the period 1998-2000. All 62 death sentences were awarded during the years 2004 (19), 2011 (14), 2005 and 2009 (8 each), 2003 (5) and 2001 and 2012 (3 each). In 2013, 2 individuals received the death sentence in this State."

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