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After death sentence, what Kasab will endure

May 06, 2010 14:06 IST

The death of the biggest mass murderer on Indian soil is evident with the special court handing out the death sentence to Ajmal Kasab. Even though he is a Pakistani national tried in the Indian court, all norms prescribed will apply to him since he has been convicted under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

From today, Kasab is no longer an undertrial prisoner. Although he may be held at the Arthur Road jail due to security reasons, the norms that govern his existence will change completely.

The prisoner shall be kept in solitary confinement and will have no access to the other prisoners in the jail. His cell will be thoroughly examined and the Superintendent of the Jails shall check that the cell is secure and ensure that there is nothing in the cell, with which he could kill himself. A sentry will be on duty guarding this cell at all times to ensure that the prisoner's safety. The sentry shall also ensure that no one else approaches the cell unless it is the superintendent of the prison.

Security has to be extremely tight since a convict on death row is not permitted to be handcuffed or fettered unless he is extremely violent.

Kasab while serving out his last days in prison is entitled to exercise in open air for an hour each in the morning and evening under very tight security. During his stay, he is entitled to meet with his family members, relatives, friends and his lawyer only once a week after special permission for these has been accorded. He can also call for a priest of his faith. All this  can only be done under the supervision of the superintendent.

Kasab can ask for religious books, photographs and emblems, newspapers, and stationery. He is also entitled to cash in case he wishes to buy something from the prison canteen.

When in prison, it is the duty of the Deputy Superintendent to explain to him his legal rights.

Kasab will be briefed about his right to appeal. It would be the job of the officer to get the appeal prepared for him.

If the prisoner wishes to appeal then the intention shall be recorded and the same shall be forwarded to the registrar general of the Supreme Court.

The moment a right of appeal is referred then the execution shall automatically be stayed. Following an appeal before the Supreme Court and if the appeal for reduction of sentence is rejected, then it is the duty of the jail authorities to inform him about his right to file a mercy petition. The same shall be submitted in writing in seven days.

The mercy petition shall be addressed to the governor of the state. Such a letter would have a covering letter bearing in red ink, the words death sentence, petition for mercy and urgent.

If no reply is received within 15 days from the date of dispatch of the petition, the superintendent shall send an express letter to the secretary to the state government drawing attention to the fact. He shall in no case carry out the execution before the receipt of a reply from the state government.

Date of sentence:

It would be the job of the state government to fix the date of the execution after the mercy petition is rejected. The superintendent will then inform the relatives about the date of execution. Following this time would be given to the prisoner to prepare his will.

Upon receipt of confirmation, the superintendent shall fix the time of the execution which is always before sunrise. No execution will be carried out on a public holiday. The executive engineer shall inspect the gallows before the date of the execution and a medical report on the prisoner shall be submitted.

The drop:

If the prisoner weighs less than 100 lbs. or 45 kgs, he should be given a drop of 8 feet or 2.5 mtrs.

If the prisoner weighs from 100 to 133 lbs. or 45 to 60 kgs, he should be given a drop of 7 feet 8 inches or 2.3 mtrs.

If the prisoner weighs more than 133 lbs. or 60 kgs, but not more than 166 lbs. or 75 kgs, he should be given a drop of 7 feet or 2.2 mtrs.

If the prisoner weighs more than 166 lbs. or 75 kgs. but not more than 200 lbs. or 91 kgs, he should be given a drop of 6 feet 6 inches or 2 mtrs.

If the prisoner weighs more than 200 lbs. or 91 kgs, he should be given a drop of 6 feet 1.83 mtrs.

On the day of the execution the superintendent, deputy superintendent, assistant superintendent in charge and medical officer shall be present. An executive magistrate deputed by the district magistrate shall attend the execution and countersign the warrant.

If the prisoner so desires, a priest of his faith may be allowed, at the discretion of the superintendent, to be present at the place of execution, subject to the requirements of security and prison discipline. The relatives of the prisoner and other prisoners shall not be allowed to witness the execution.

The superintendent may, however, permit social scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. who are conducting research to be present.

At the time of the execution prisoners of all categories shall be kept locked up until the execution is over.

The final walk:

 The night before the execution the prisoner shall be provided with the food of his choice. The next day two hours before the execution he shall be woken up and ordered to take a bath. A fresh set of clothes are then provided to him and the moment is he is out of the cell, his face shall be hooded and hands bound

The prisoner shall be allowed to see the gallows. The prisoner will be made to walk through the passageway which is around 20 metres and is covered in less than a minute.

Once the execution is carried out, the body shall remain suspended for half an hour and will be taken down only once the medical officer has certified the prisoner as dead. The body will be disposed off according to religious requirements.

In case the family members of the family make a request in writing, the superintendent may hand over the body on the condition that no public display is made when the cremation or the burial takes place.

Vicky Nanjappa