'Frame rules for timely disposal of mercy petitions'

SC notice to Centre on plea for framing of rules for timely disposal of mercy petitions

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Union government to file a reply to a PIL seeking a specific procedure and guidelines to dispose of mercy petitions in a time-bound manner to avoid any discrimination and arbitrariness and possibility of unrest in the general public.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs on a plea by advocate Shiv Kumar Tripathi, alleging violation of rights of the victims due to delay in deciding mercy petitions.

The petitioner, represented by advocate Kamal Mohan Gupta, contended that since there was no specified written procedure and guidelines for disposing of the mercy petitions filed under Article 72 of the Constitution within a time-bound manner, it has resulted in arbitrariness and undue delay, giving rise to unrest, doubts, and suspicion in the mind of the public at large. 

He submitted that the power to grant pardon under Article 72 by the President was practically being exercised by the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

"It is the Ministry that plays a great role in deciding the mercy petition. It is this ministry, which is responsible for the delay. It is the fault of the Ministry that no rules have been framed for the exercise of the power. Moreover, no statutory guidelines have been framed and the internal guidelines are not binding," the plea contended.

The petitioner sought a direction to the Centre for the framing of the specific procedure, rules, and guidelines for disposing of the mercy petitions within a time-bound period.

He pointed out in quite a few cases there was a prolonged delay in disposal of the mercy petitions, resulting in converting death sentences into imprisonment for life, making the victims and their families feel cheated.


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