The Centre on the Death Penalty was established in August, 2014 to undertake new avenues of research on the administration of the death penalty, ensure competent legal representation for indigent prisoners sentenced to death, and open new fronts and methods of discussion on the death penalty, among various stakeholders and the public.
The Death Penalty India Report, which was the Centre’s first research project, laid the foundation of our commitment to enhancing discourse on the death penalty through empirical research and facilitating access to justice through proficient legal aid.
The Centre on the Death Penalty is one of the many research centres hosted at NLU, Delhi to encourage cutting-edge legal research across various fields. NLU, Delhi was established in 2008 under the National Law University Act, 2007 with the objective of imparting comprehensive and interdisciplinary legal education.
The university has signed several Memoranda of Understanding with national and international universities with a view to encourage collaborative academic activity. The university is committed to disseminating legal knowledge and developing the pedagogical acumen necessary to engage with contemporary legal issues of public importance.
The lawyers of tomorrow trained in the legal institutions of today are obliged to be active stakeholders in ensuring the effective functioning of the legal system if the manifest goal of ‘equal access to justice' is to become a living reality. NLU, Delhi, being one of the premier legal institutions of the country, aims not only at providing quality legal education, but also at establishing ‘Centres of Excellence’ in pursuance of this goal. NLU, Delhi has eight research centres, each focusing on issues of importance in varied areas of law. The Centre on the Death Penalty, being one such centre, ensures that the work of NLU, Delhi goes beyond the realm of classroom teaching and directly to the heart of the access to justice discourse.
India’s criminal justice system is under tremendous stress and the death penalty must be necessarily examined in that context. The Death Penalty India Report, the cornerstone on which the Centre was founded faced significant challenges concerning verification of information, access to prisoners and records, tracking down families of prisoners, and scrutinizing commonly held beliefs and sentiments about the death penalty through rigorous research. In spite of all of these hurdles and many more, the team led by Dr. Anup Surendranath, succeeded and produced a report which has changed the face of death penalty jurisprudence in India.
By engaging in cutting edge research on issues surrounding the death penalty, the Centre ensures that the debate on the death penalty is all-encompassing. The Centre’s research efforts in unpacking the socio-legal implications of capital punishment, examining sentencing practices, and investigating the lived experience of incarceration provide a holistic set of resources that enrich death penalty jurisprudence. The Centre’s litigation efforts ensure fair and just functioning of the legal system by providing effective legal representation to indigent prisoners on death row.
I wish the Centre the very best in its endeavors.
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