Dr. Anoop Surendranath, Executive Director of the Centre on the Death Penalty of the National Law University, Delhi has decided to rename itself as `Project 39A’ ( www.project39a.com). The change is not just in name, but symbolises a change in the essential thrust of the research body which has contributed immensely to the Campaign against Death Penalty in India through its wide ranging and comprehensive research on death penalty issues.
In a communication to PUCL, Dr. Anoop Surendranath writes:
“Project 39A draws inspiration from Article 39-A in the Constitution on equal justice and signals the broadening of our engagement with the criminal justice system in India. While retaining the intensity of our engagement with the death penalty, Project 39A will also see us explore issues of forensics, torture, forensic psychiatry and legal aid. This broader approach reflects our belief that multiple aspects of the criminal justice system need research and intervention to address the barriers that impede the effective access to justice.
“Our journey as the Centre on the Death Penalty from August 2014 has been one of immense learning. All three areas of our work - research, litigation and public outreach - have posed unique challenges in terms of ethics, strategy and access. Beginning with the Death Penalty India Report, our research efforts have also looked at trial court death penalty sentencing (report forthcoming in August 2018), mental health of death row prisoners (report forthcoming in October 2018) and an opinion study with 60 former Supreme Court judges (Matters of Judgment). We are now also involved with the pro bono legal representation of nearly 65 death row prisoners across India through our litigation efforts. Our public outreach efforts on the death penalty has seen us publish annual death penalty statistics, develop creative strategies using literary and cultural resources and engage with a wide range of audiences.
“The decision by the University to back such an endeavour is in the highest traditions of the role of universities in societies such as ours. Given the polarising nature of the death penalty, it hasn't been easy for the University to support our work. It speaks volumes of the leadership at the University that, apart from the unwavering support we have received, there has been constant encouragement to broaden and deepen our engagement with the criminal justice system.
“This transition to Project 39A opens up interesting avenues of enquiry into critical areas of the criminal justice system in India and we do hope that we can look forward to your continued support”.
We wish the newly named Centre all the best in its work of research and engagement with the Criminal Justice System in India.
Our readers may like to access the Reports of the Centre on Death Penalty / Project 39A at the following URL’s.
Death Penalty India Reports:
Matters of Judgment:
Death Penalty in India: Annual Statistics, 2016-17
UN Documents: Moving Away from Death Penalty: