Understanding the Death Penalty in India: The Challenges and Potential of Empirical Research
Source TitleALC Briefing Paper Series
PublisherAsian Law Centre, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne Author/sTaylor, Kathryn
AffiliationAsian Law Centre
CitationsSURENDRANATH, A. (2017). Understanding the Death Penalty in India: The Challenges and Potential of Empirical Research. Asian Law Centre, University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
The Death Penalty India Report (2016) was an attempt to address the lack of empirical information on the administration of the death penalty in India. The dismal state of affairs in this regard is demonstrated by the fact that there exist no reliable figures for the number of executions India has carried out since independence in August 1947. Further, when the Death Penalty Research Project was conceptualised in May 2013 there was no certainty about the total number of prisoners on death row in India either. While there is extensive work on the analysis of Supreme Court judgements on the death penalty, there is an acute absence of research on other facets of the administration of the death penalty. The two specific aims of the Death Penalty Research Project were to document the socio-economic profile of death row prisoners in India and secondly, to map the interaction of death row prisoners with different aspects of India’s criminal justice system. These aims were achieved by interviewing all prisoners on death row across India along with tracking down and interviewing their families (in some cases, the prisoners had no families or the families had abandoned the prisoner). Of the 385 prisoners under the sentence of death in India during the project, we had access to 373 prisoners.
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