Saturday, November 26, 2022

Supreme Court issues Notice in Centre’s plea for 7-day cap on Death Row Petitions

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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice, admitting the Centre’s plea for fixing a seven-day time-frame for filing of curative and mercy petitions by death row convicts.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde issued notice in the matter after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, demanded that the court should issue victim-centric and society-centric guidelines.

Mehta said the guidelines issued by the court in Shatrughan Chauhan’s case in 2014 were convict-centric and must be modified to prevent convicts from delaying sentence executions.

Also comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant, the bench, however, made it clear that it would not change the alter the Chauhan judgement.

The Centre said it should be permissible for death convicts to file curative petition after the rejection of review petition only within a time to be stipulated by the Supreme Court and not thereafter.

The MHA has urged the apex court “to clarify and direct that if the convict of death sentence wants to file mercy petition, it would be mandatory for a convict of death sentence to do so only within a period of seven days from the date of receipt of death warrant issued by the competent court”.

It said the court should make it mandatory for all competent courts, state governments and the prison authorities in the country to issue death warrant of a convict within seven days of the rejection of his mercy petition and thereafter to execute death sentence within seven days, irrespective of the stage of any petition of his co-convicts.

In the 2014 verdict, the apex court had said there should be a gap of 14 days from the date of rejection of mercy petition and execution of a death row convict.

The MHA’s plea comes at a time when the President has rejected the mercy petition of one of the four convicts, Mukesh Kumar Singh. Vinay’s mercy plea has been filed, Akshay’s curative petition dismissed, and Pawan Gupta’s review application against the rejection of his juvenile claim is also in court.

A Delhi court had on January 17 issued fresh death warrants for February 1 against the four convicts after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition of Mukesh.

Home Ministry’s plea assumes significance in view of death row convicts in Nirbhaya gangrape case filing review, curative and mercy petitions one by one delaying their execution.

The Centre has said that the need of the hour was to lay down guidelines in the interest of the victims rather than just keeping the rights of the convicts in mind.

— India Legal Bureau

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