Finality of death sentence extremely important: SC

Finality of death sentence extremely important, says the Supreme Court

On April 15, 2008, Shabnam's entire family was wiped out and the woman initially pretended that her house in Amroha district of UP was attacked by unidentified assailants

The SC had on May 15, 2015 upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by Allahabad HC in 2013 for killing seven members of woman's family. (Reuters Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday said finality of death sentence was extremely important and a condemned prisoner should not be under the impression that such a punishment remained open ended and could be questioned all the time.

“One cannot go on fighting endlessly for everything,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde said, while hearing a review plea by a couple against the death sentence awarded to them for killing seven members of a woman's family.  

The remarks came during hearing of review petitions filed by Shabnam and Salim, after senior advocates Anand Grover and Meenakshi Arora questioned the basis of the sentence and even cited good conduct behaviour of the couple during their incarceration.

“A lot of compassion is generated (for death row prisoners) and in reality, their acts are ignored. Look at the other side, imagine the consequences, if such people are let off. Innocent people should not be punished but the guilty should not be spared. Give out a list of cases where this court commuted death sentence on conduct of good behaviour,” the bench asked the counsel.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government referred to the application filed by the Home Ministry for modification of the 2014 'Shatrughan Chouhan judgment', saying the guidelines framed had left the execution of death sentence open-ended. In the 2012 Nirbhaya case, the trial court had to postpone the date of execution in view of various applications by the convicts.

Referring to the case, the bench, also comprising of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna said, the couple were carrying on with their affair for a long time. The woman's father was a poor school teacher, he asked her not to carry on. There were fights day in and day out. Both decided to get rid of everybody in the family.

“It was purely premeditated offence, their planning was meticulous, and the alibi given by them was false,” the bench said as it reserved its judgement.

The top court had in June, 2015 quashed death warrants issued against Shabnam, a teacher, and her lover Salim. Both were residents of Amroha in UP.

The SC had on May 15, 2015 upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by Allahabad HC in 2013 for killing seven members of woman's family.

A writ petition made by Shabnam and the National Law University (Death Penalty Litigation Clinic) respectively, however, challenged constitutional validity of death warrants issued by Amroha court. The apex court subsequently quashed the death warrants against them.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox