New Delhi: More than three-fourths of death row convicts in the country belong to socially, economically and educationally backward section of the society, according to a report.
The report by Centre for Death Penalty of Delhi National Law University also states that more than 80 per cent of the death row inmates are subjected to 'inhuman, degrading and extreme forms of physical and mental torture' inside prisons.
The study which documents the socio-economic profile of prisoners sentenced to death in India identifies that almost three-fourth of the prisoners were economically vulnerable and a major chunk of them were either primary or sole earners in their family.
Seventy six per cent of convicts awaiting gallows belong to backward classes and religious minorities, as per the report which also indicates that all the 12 female death row convicts in the country belong to the above mentioned categories.
Two hundred and sixteen of 270 prisoners, (i.e, 80 per cent) in this study spoke about custodial torture faced by them which includes the most inhuman, degrading and extreme forms of physical and mental torture inside the dark walls.
Burning skin with cigarettes, inserting needles into fingernails, forced nudity, forced anal penetration with rods and glass bottles, forced to drink urine, made to urinate on heater, hung by wires, extreme beating etc are few forms of torture that have been revealed in the study.
The study also found that 23 per cent of prisoners sentenced to death had never attended school and 61.6 per cent had not completed their secondary education.
"If the accused is illiterate, it affects his defence," Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur said during a panel discussion regarding the report.
The report identifies 385 death row convicts lodged in various prisons across different states among which Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 79 convicts in line to gallows.
The report says there is a need of urgency to look into the mental health of death convicts at different levels. "The accounts of the prisoners seeking mercy allow us to understand their fears and despair which are aggravated by the opacity of the process," it said.
Even though the apex court has been following a time honoured tradition by hearing appeals of prisoners sentenced to death, the Report brings out cases of 11 prisoners in last 10 years in which the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.
The study does not seek to make a case for the abolition of the death penalty, but the purpose is to throw light on some difficult questions concerning the criminal justice system....