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New Delhi, Mar 20: At last Humanity hankers 'if it was also guaranteed the last.'

After seven years and three months of the heinous crime, and post series of legal wrangling four Nirbhaya convicts - Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh hanged to death at the Tihar Jail here at 5.30 am on Friday.

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in India. It has been carried out in five instances since 1995 while a total of twenty-six executions have taken place in India since 1991, the most recent of which was of Yakub Memon in 2015, who was convicted for his involvement over the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

Memon, the brother of Tiger Memon, another masterminds of the Mumbai bombings, was executed on July 30, 2015-also his birthday, in the Nagpur Jail. Before Yakub Memon, terrorist Mohammad Afjal Guru, convicted for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, was hanged on February 9, 2013, in Tihar Jail, Delhi.Another infamous- Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani militant belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who was convicted for his involvement over the 2008 Mumbai terrorists attacks, faced the gallows on November 21, 2012, in Pune.

The Supreme Court in Mithu vs. State of Punjab case struck down Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code, which provided for a mandatory death sentence for offenders who committed murder whilst serving a life sentence.

The number of people executed in India since the nation achieved Independence in 1947 is a matter of dispute; official government statistics claim that fifty-two people had been executed since Independence. However, research by the People's Union for Civil Liberties indicates that the actual number of executions is in fact much higher, as they located records of 1,422 executions in the decade from 1953 to 1963 alone.

Research published by National Law University, (NLW) Delhi, on death row convicts since 2000, had found that of the 1,617 prisoners sentenced to death by trial courts in India, capital punishment was confirmed in only seventy-one cases.

NLU, Delhi confirmed 755 executions in India since 1947. The varsity examined 1,414 prisoners who were executed, in the available list of convicts hanged in post-Independence since 1947. According to a report of the Law Commission of India (1967), the total number of cases in which the death sentence was handed down in India from 1953-63 was 1410. In December 2007, India voted against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.

In November 2012, India again upheld its stance on capital punishment by voting against the UN General Assembly draft resolution seeking to end the institution of capital punishment globally.

On 31 August 2015, the Law Commission of India submitted a report to the government which recommended the abolition of capital punishment for all crimes in India, excepting the crime of waging war against the nation or for terrorism-related offences.

The report cited several factors to justify abolishing the death penalty, including its abolition by 140 other nations, its arbitrary and flawed application and its lack of any proven deterring effect on criminals.

In Colonial India, death was prescribed as one of the punishments in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), which listed a number of capital crimes. It remained in effect after independence in 1947. The first hanging in Independent India was that of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case on 15th November, 1949. (UNI)

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