SC stays execution of three death-row convicts

Apex court says earlier verdict was in conflict with another order

SC stays execution of three death-row convicts

The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of three death-row convicts after it was pointed out that the verdict passed in their case in 2009 was based on the judgment, declared per incuriam (in conflict with) a larger bench decision.

A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and F M I Kalifullah passed the order on Monday after senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for petitioner Ambadas Laxmandas Shinde and two others pointed out the faulty logic adopted in their case.

In his plea, the counsel sought review of the verdict saying that the decision of the apex court in the petitioner’s case relied on the per-incuriam decision of Ravji vs State of Rajasthan (1996) and is therefore, at par with six cases noted to be per-incuriam in Santosh Kumar Bariyar vs State of Maharashtra (2009).

“This court in petitioner’s case failed to consider even a single mitigating circumstance and only placed emphasis on aggravating aspects of the case which is in clear violation to the Constitution bench decision in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980),” the petitioners claimed.

The landmark Bachan Singh case has streamlined the rarest of rare category criterion laid down for award of the capital punishment.

This is the latest in a series of verdict where the apex court had stayed execution of death penalties. On January 21, it had rescued 15 death-row convicts after holding that inordinate delay in deciding their mercy pleas was ground for commutation of their sentence to life term.

The apex court has also reserved its verdict in the case of three men sentenced to death penalty in assassination case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

According to the petitioners’ counsel Rishabh Sancheti, the court awarded death sentence to Shinde and two others in 2009 by applying the flawed logic used in handing out death sentences in the Ravji case in 1996.

Notably, out of the six, Ravji and Suja Ram were executed. The four others, however, could be saved with the apex court’s verdict on January 21.

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