Sentenced to appeal for life
Trial courts in India sentence hundreds of convicts to death. But executions are rare.
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Between 2000 and 2014, trial courts across India sentenced 1,810 people to death. Every death sentence must be confirmed by either the High Court or the Supreme Court, depending on the case.

More than half of these death sentences — 975 — were commuted to life imprisonment by the appellate courts.

Another 443 people — about a quarter of those sentenced to death — were acquitted by the appellate courts.

Others are waiting to hear about their appeals, are being retried, are on the run or died in prison. Nine were found to have been juveniles at the time of the crime. The records of over a hundred people could not be traced.

The Supreme Court eventually upheld the sentences of 73 prisoners. Almost all of them challenged the court’s order or petitioned the state for mercy.

Of those, only 3 were executed: Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon.

Three. Out of 1,810. That’s less than one percent.

In India, a death sentence almost never results in an execution. So why are hundreds of people on death row?

NOTE: Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was executed in 2004, was sentenced in 1991. The study only includes prisoners sentenced after 2000.