NEW DELHI (AFP) - Amnesty International Friday asked to India to declare a "moratorium" on executions as an interim step towards abolishing the death penalty. The London-based rights group said there was a worldwide trend towards abolition and urged India to "declare an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty." As an emerging power, "India has an opportunity to exercise regional leadership and to send a strong signal of its determination to fully uphold human rights" by rejecting the death sentence, it said. Amnesty India chief Mukul Sharma said the report was based on the belief that the "death penalty violates the right to life and does not have any place in the modern justice system." "There was no comprehensive study on the impact or consequences of awarding the death penalty" for many decades, he noted. President Pratibha Patel has about 60 mercy petitions under review for people on death row, including the high-profile case of Afzal Guru, sentenced to hang for plotting a 2001 attack on parliament. The rights watchdog said it feared India's leaders lacked the political courage and human rights leadership to abolish the death penalty, with the public "erroneously" believing it deters violent crime. After studying 56 years of evidence used to hand down death sentences, Amnesty said it had found "abuse of law and procedure and arbitrariness and inconsistencies in the investigation process." "In practice, the exercise of clemency has even more potential for arbitrariness than the judicial process, especially since there is no requirement to give reasons for accepting or rejecting mercy petitions," Sharma said. The last execution in India was in 2004 when a 41-year-old former security guard was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl. Vikramjit Batra, who wrote the report, said "many Supreme Court judges themselves have pointed out the absence of a clear sentencing policy or what constitutes the rarest of the rare. He described India's judicial and police system as "riddled with errors," saying the Supreme Court had acquitted the accused in 175 of the 728 cases he reviewed because the lower courts' verdict was erroneous.