New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) India saw a dip in imposition of capital punishment last year with 109 cases of execution reported in the country in 2017 as compared to 136 such cases in 2016, global rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a report.

The report titled ‘Death Sentences and Executions 2017’ claimed that the year 2017 saw a 19.8 per cent decrease in awarding death sentences in the country as compared to 2016.

“Globally, executions and death sentences are sliding and India has contributed to this trend, Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India, said in a press release.

“However, there is bad news coming out of India too, with new laws being passed that expand the scope of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” he said.

The report noted that a research done by the Centre on Death Penalty-National Law University (NLU) indicated that courts in India had imposed 109 new death sentences in 2017, including 51 for murder and 43 for murder involving sexual offences.

“This represented a decrease in the total number of death sentences imposed (136 in 2016), as well those imposed for murder not involving other offences (87 in 2016). Two new death sentences were imposed for drug-related offences. A total of 371 people are known to be under death sentence at the end of 2017,” the report said.

The human rights watchdog, however, expressed concern over the country expanding the scope of death penalty.

It said India was one of the only three countries in the world that expanded the scope of the death penalty by adopting new laws.

“Case in point is the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, which provides for death penalty for hijacking resulting in death. It came into force at national level on July 5, 2017,” the report added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.