A Theatre of Death: Challenging the Death Penalty in India (with Anup Surendranath)

by | Apr 23, 2018

author profile picture

Interviewee: Anup Surendranath

Dr Anup Surendranath is the Executive Director of Project 39A (formerly the Centre on the Death Penalty) and an Assistant Professor of Law at National Law University, Delhi. He was invited by the Supreme Court of India to serve as the Deputy Registrar (Research) in May 2014, the last such appointment having been made in the late 80s. Dr. Surendranath completed his legal education from the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad (India) and the University of Oxford (2007-12). His involvement with the death penalty in India began in May 2013 by establishing and leading the Death Penalty Research Project that culminated in the Death Penalty India Report (May 2016). The project, first of its kind on the death penalty in India, interviewed all of India's death row prisoners and their families towards developing a socio-economic profile of death row prisoners and also mapping their interaction with the criminal justice system. Over 90 undergraduate law students at National Law University, Delhi were involved with the project between May 2013 - May 2016 and the Death Penalty India Report is now considered among the definitive works on the death penalty in India. The Centre on the Death Penalty was established in August 2014 to provide pro bono legal representation to death row prisoners in India and to further research the administration of the death penalty in India. Apart from representing over 65 death row prisoners across India, the Centre's research currently examines...

author profile picture

Interviewer: Kira Allmann

Kira Allmann is the OxHRH Communications Director and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media Law and Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. Her current research focuses on digital inequality, exploring community-driven grassroots solutions to closing the digital divide. She leads several research projects, using ethnographic methods to study the role of community-owned internet networks, local digital skills training, and public internet access points in promoting digital inclusion. Kira is also a research partner of the Whose Knowledge? campaign, which works to center the knowledge of marginalized communities on the web. She completed her DPhil in Oriental Studies (Islamic World) at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and also holds an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies (University of Oxford) and a B.A. in Government and Linguistics (The College of William and Mary).

Share this:

The death penalty was written into the colonial penal code in India when the country was under British direct rule, and it stayed on the books after independence. Today India remains a ‘retentionist’ country – meaning that it retains the death penalty in the face of a growing global movement to abolish it worldwide on human rights grounds. At the end of 2017, there were 371 prisoners on death row in India. India is one of the few democracies that retains the death penalty, and it has voted against recent UN resolutions seeking a global end to the death penalty. In this episode, Anup Surendranath talks about the research he and his team at the National Law University in Delhi have conducted on death row inmates in India and what challenges remain on the path to abolition.

Produced by: Dr Kira Allmann (University of Oxford)
Interview with: Dr Anup Surendranath (National Law University, Delhi, India)
Music by: Rosemary Allmann

Share this:


Related Content