Stating that some death row convicts in heinous crimes were taking the judicial process for a ride under the garb of Article 21 — pertaining to right to life and personal liberty — the Centre moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday, seeking modifications in the procedure to be followed in such cases.
The application by the Union Home Ministry urged the court to fix a time limit for a death row convict to file curative petition and give them only seven days from the date of issue of death warrant for filing a mercy plea.
It also requested the top court “to mandate all courts, state governments, prison authorities in the country, to issue death warrant of a convict within seven days of the rejection of his mercy petition and to execute death sentence within seven days thereafter irrespective of the state of review petition/curative petition/mercy petition of his co-convicts”.
The development comes at a time questions have been raised over procedural delays in the execution of the death sentence awarded to the convicts in the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case.
The top court had in its 2014 judgment in ‘Shatrughan Singh Chauhan and another Vs Union of India’ laid down some common guidelines with respect to the procedure to be followed for filing mercy petitions and the execution of death sentence.
In its application, the Home Ministry said these guidelines were issued from an convict-centric point of view and requested the court to adopt a victim-centric approach.
The government said the country “is facing a menace of certain offences which are punishable with death sentence. Such offences include offences relating to terrorism, rape, murder, etc”.
Rape, it said, is not only an offence against an individual and society but an offence against humanity. It added there are several instances of the heinous offence of rape accompanied by an equally horrible offence of the murder of the victim.
“It is submitted that while taking care of the rights of the convicts, it is more important and need of the hour to lay down guidelines in the interest of the victims, their families and in larger public interest, lest the convicts found to be guilty of such horrible, and dreadful, cruel, abominable, ghastly, gruesome and heinous offences would be permitted to play with the majesty of law and prolong the execution of the sentence awarded to them in accordance with the law,” the plea said.
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