The Supreme Court Friday decided that a larger Bench should adjudicate a batch of petitions,pleading for commutation of death sentences into life imprisonment on account of delay in carrying out execution after President rejected their mercy petitions.
A Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi posted the matter for first hearing on October 22. Death sentence matters will be taken up immediately after the Dussehra holidays from October 22, said the Bench.
The court also extended the interim order on staying the execution of four aides of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerappan and eight other death row convicts,who had moved the court separately after the President rejected their long-pending mercy petitions. The authoritative judgment on the legal issues relating to delay in execution is also likely to impact the fate of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
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There have been a couple of judgments by a two-judge Bench of the apex court recently dealing with this issue. Rejecting an appeal by Khalistani terrorist and death row convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar,the court had said that long delay in disposing of mercy plea cannot be a sufficient ground to condone the execution.
However,in a later verdict,the court granted relief to M N Das,who had also sought conversion of his death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding his mercy plea.