The hanging of Yakub Memon on Thursday in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which 257 people lost their lives and over 700 were injured, is the first execution of death sentence in Maharashtra after Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was sent to the gallows for the 26/11 terror attacks.
On May 3, 2010, a Mumbai Special Court convicted Kasab of murder and waging a war on India and sentenced him to death three days later. The verdict was upheld by the Bombay High Court on February 21, 2011 and the Supreme Court on August 29, 2012.
Kasab’s mercy petition was rejected by the President on November 5, 2012 and he was hanged at Pune’s Yerwada Jail on November 21, 2012.
A few months later, Afzal Guru, who was awarded capital punishment in Parliament attack case, was hanged on February 9, 2013, at Tihar Jail in Delhi.
The first hanging in Independent India was that of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case.
Godse, a militant Hindu nationalist, along with co-conspirator Apte was sentenced to death by the Punjab High Court after a widely watched trial. They were hanged at Ambala jail on November 15, 1949.
In the Indira Gandhi assassination case, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh were hanged on January 6, 1989.
According to legal historians, the death penalty was incorporated in the Indian Penal Code in pre-independent India in 1860.
After Independence, there have been debates on retaining the capital punishment in the country’s penal system.
Despite the campaign for abolition of capital punishment by some rights groups, in 2007 India voted against a UN General Assembly resolution seeking a worldwide moratorium on death penalty.
This stand was reiterated again in 2012 when the UN came out with another resolution on the issue.
Though the official figures hold that only about 50 executions of death penalty have taken place in India since Independence, human rights and civil liberty groups have claimed that the number of convicts sent to gallows are much higher in the last six decades.
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