The Supreme Court has on Thursday commuted death sentence of a man after noticing "unexplained and inordinate delay" of almost five years in taking a decision on his mercy petition. It also noted the convict remained in jail for 14 years.
The top court, however, ordered that the man would suffer life imprisonment till the end of his life for committing murder of his own wife and five children.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Deepak Gupta and Indira Banerjee kept in mind the circumstances, including the unexplained delay of five years in deciding the mercy petition, and his incarceration for almost 14 years to make its conclusion.
This was not fit case for execution of death sentence awarded to Jagdish, "regardless of the brutal nature of crime", the court said.
In its judgement on a writ petition as well as review petition filed by Jagdish, the court noted, not only was there a long,
inordinate and unexplained delay on the part of the state of Madhya Pradesh but to make matters worse, the state has not even cared to file any counter affidavit in the writ petition even though notice was issued four years back on November 18, 2014.
"Inordinate and unexplained delay in deciding the mercy petition and the consequent delay in execution of death sentence for years on end is another form of punishment This court has repeatedly held that in cases where
death sentence has to be executed the same should be done as early as possible," the bench said.
Jagdish was tried for the murder of his wife and five children. He was convicted by the trial court on April 24, 2006 and sentenced to death. He filed an appeal which was dismissed by the High Court on June 27, 2006. Thereafter, he filed appeal in the top court which was dismissed and again death sentence was confirmed on September 18, 2009.
He filed mercy petition before the jail authorities on October 13, 2009, which came to be rejected by the President of India on July 16, 2014.