Centre seeks review of SC verdict on death sentence

Centre seeks review of SC verdict on death sentence

The Centre has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its landmark January 21 verdict, which commuted death sentence of 15 convicts to life term citing inordinate delay in disposal of their mercy petitions by the President.

The Centre claimed that the verdict amounted to “interference” in the President’s decision and pronouncement without “jurisdiction”.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam had spared 15 condemned prisoners. The bench held that unreasonable delay in disposal of mercy pleas by the President or the governor could be a ground for commuting death sentences.

The government has claimed that “the impugned judgment is patently illegal, suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record and flies in the face of well-established principles of law.”

It further said since issues raised in the writ petitions concerned “a substantial issue of interpretation of the Constitution”, it ought not to have been heard by a bench of three judges, but should have been referred to a five-judge bench. It also submitted that delay was an element to be considered, but, it was not the sole factor as nature and seriousness of the offence must be taken into account.

If the court was of the opinion that the mercy petitions were not properly considered, it ought to be remitted back to the President for reconsideration. 

Alternatively, if delay was the issue, it ought to have referred the matter to the President, requesting an expeditious disposal of the petitions. 

The apex court had provided relief to 15 people, including Veerappan’s associates Bilavendran, Simon and Gnanprakasam Madia. The judgment gave a fresh lease of life to three other convicts from Karnataka: Shivu, Jadeswamy and Praveen Kumar.

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