Hyderabad: Among all cognisable crimes in India, rape has the lowest conviction rate. The overall rate of conviction for rape cases was 25.5 per cent as on December 2016.
As many as 2,78,886 rape cases have been reported in India over the last 10 years under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
The trial even in the 2012 Delhi rape case, which attracted global attention, ended only in 2018 with the Supreme Court dismissing the review petitions of the convicted rapists who were sentenced to death.
The case was heard in a fast-track court but still took six years to reach closure. The sentence has still not been carried out.
Convicted persons have a cycle of appeals and the approval for execution of sentences often lies pending at Rashtrapati Bhavan. According to a report, ‘The death penalty database-India’, issued by Cornell Law School, at least 477 convicts wait on death row as on 2016-17.
Navkiran Singh, a human rights lawyer of the Haryana and Punjab High Court, said, “The convict always gets an opportunity to seek pardon before the President, who has the right to forgive.”
He said most Presidents try not to decide on the mercy petition because of various factors including that the death sentence is opposed by many sections, especially human rights activists.
Many claim that the death sentence does not act as a deterrent to criminals, he said. Mr Singh said the system gives convicts the opportunity to approach the highest court to get the death sentence converted to life imprisonment. “Thus many cases lie pending,” he said....