Nirbhaya Case: A Look At India’s Most High Profile Executions

Here's a look at some of the death penalties that were executed in independent India.

3 min read
Nirbhaya Case: A Look At India’s Most High Profile Executions

The four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya murder case were hung to death at around 5:30 am on 20 March 2020. This is the first time since independence that four men have been executed together.

In total, sixteen convicts have been executed in India in the last three decades.

The last case of execution was that of Yakub Memon, who was convicted in the 1993 Bombay (now Mumbai) blasts case, in the year 2015. The Quint takes a look at the history of executions in independent India.


Yakub Memon (2015)

Yakub Memon was the brother of Tiger Memon, who was one of the prime suspects in the 1993 Bombay blasts – a series of twelve bomb blasts on 12 March 1993 that killed over 300 people and left over a thousand injured.

In 2007, a special court convicted Yakub for his involvement in the blasts. All petitions for clemency were rejected and he was hanged on 30 July 2015 in the Nagpur jail.

Afzal Guru (2013)

Afzal Guru was a Kashmiri man convicted for his role in the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament which led to the death of nine people in total, including six police personnel.

A special POTA court awarded capital punishment to Guru in 2002. This was upheld by the Delhi High Court in 2003 and then again by the Supreme Court in 2005.

Several appeals were made by human rights and political groups, especially in Kashmir, to grant clemency to Guru, including by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, on the grounds that he didn't receive a fair trial.

In 2013 his mercy petition was rejected by the President Of India. He was executed by hanging on 9 February 2013 in Delhi's Tihar jail. He was the last convict to be executed there. His remains were buried in Tihar.


Ajmal Kasab (2012)

Ajmal Kasab was one of the terrorists who executed the Mumbai Terror Attacks in November 2008, in which over over 170 people lost their lives. Kasab was the only of ten attackers who was captured alive.

He was given the death sentence by a special court in 2010, which was then upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2011 and the Supreme Court in 2012.

His mercy petition was rejected by the then president Pranab Mukherjee and he was finally executed on 21 November 2012 in Pune's Yerwada Jail. His remains were then buried there.

Dhananjoy Chatterjee (2004)

Dhananjoy Chatterjee was the first person in 21st century India to be judicially executed for murder. He was convicted for the rape and murder for of 14-year-old school girl Hetal Parekh in Kolkata in the year 1990.

Going by circumstantial evidence, Dhananjoy was sentenced to death by a sessions court, the Calcutta High Court and then the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court termed it a rarest of rare case as Dhananjoy, who worked as a security guard in Hetal's building, was in-charge of her safety.

He was hanged on 14 August 2004 at the Alipore Correctional Home in Kolkata.


Satwant Singh (1989)

Satwant Singh was one of former prime minister Indira Gandhi's bodyguards, who along with another body guard, Beant Singh, was responsible for her assassination on 31 October 1984.

Satwant Singh surrendered after firing 30 rounds at the prime minister. He was arrested and later sentenced to death, along with co-conspirator Kehar Singh. Beant Singh was killed in police custody during interrogation.

Satwant and Kehar Singh's execution was carried out on 6 January 1989.

Ranga & Billa (1982)

Kuldeep and Jasbir Singh aka Ranga and Billa were given the death penalty for kidnapping and murdering siblings Geeta and Sanjay Chopra in 1978.

There were also reports that Geeta was raped before she was murdered but was never substantiated by forensic evidence.

They were sentenced to death by a Delhi court in 1978, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court in 1979 and then the Supreme Court in 1981.

They were hung on 31 January 1982. Their bodies were not claimed by their relatives.

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