The Supreme court on Wednesday quashed the death warrants issued by a sessions court in Amroha for execution of a couple, stating that the warrants were “signed in haste” without following proper guidelines.
The convicts, Shabnam and Salim, were sentenced to death for killing seven members of the former’s family in 2008.
Less than a week after the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence on May 15, the sessions court issued the death warrants on May 21. But, according to the law, the couple should be allowed 30 days to file review petitions.
Further, they can file curative petitions and pleas for clemency.
Expressing displeasure at the manner in which the sessions court issued the death warrants, the Supreme Court bench of Justices A K Sikri and Uday U Lalit said: “A person’s right to life, as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, does not end with the confirmation of the death sentence. It has its basis in dignity of a human life. The basis to the right to dignity also extends to death row convicts. Therefore, the sentence of death has to be executed with total dignity, and for this, certain rights are outlined and protected.”
Describing the death warrants as “defective”, the bench underlined that the couple could not be executed till they had exhausted all legal remedies available to them, and approached the Governor and the President for clemency.
The bench said these were “valuable rights” available to a death row convict. “We find that the death warrants were signed by the sessions judge in haste, without waiting for exhaustion of available remedies and hence they are quashed. We direct the respondents (authorities) to follow the procedure and guidelines laid down in the judgments of the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court,” it said.
The bench said the procedure prescribed by the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment and additional guidelines issued by the Allahabad High Court in January this year were in consonance with Article 21 and were binding on all authorities.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who appeared for the Centre, and the counsel for UP assured the court that all the guidelines would be followed.