SC declines govt plea to review death verdict

SC declines govt plea to review death verdict

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined the Centre’s plea to review its January 21 verdict commuting death penalty to 15 convicts to life term for an inordinate delay in disposal of their mercy petitions.

The Centre claimed that the verdict amounted to “interference” into the President’s decision and was pronounced without “jurisdiction”.

Taking up the review petition, a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam did not find any reason to reconsider the landmark decision.

“We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers. We find no merit in the review petitions and the same are accordingly dismissed,” the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh, said.

The bench also rejected a request for an open court hearing. Judges take up review petitions in chambers, sans the presence of lawyers or parties.

In its judgment, the apex court had spared 15 condemned prisoners by holding that an unreasonable delay in disposal of the mercy pleas by the president or the governor could be a ground to commute death sentence.

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

It further claimed that since the issues raised in the writ petitions concerned “a substantial issue of interpretation of the Constitution”, the matter ought not to have been heard by a bench of five judges.

It also submitted that delay was not the sole factor to be considered as the nature and seriousness of the offence must be taken into account.

Those provided relief by the apex court included Veerappan’s associates Bilavendran, Simon and Gnanprakasam Madia.

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