Apex court seeks details of pending mercy pleas (Lead)

February 22nd, 2012 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the home secretaries of all states to send records of all pending mercy petitions to the union home secretary by special messengers within three days.

A bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya gave the direction after central government counsel Siddharth Dave told the court that the central government could file details of the mercy petitions pending with the president but not those of mercy petitions pending with the state governments in the absence of any response from them.

When the court inquired whether any effort was made by the union home ministry to collect the records as directed by it, Dave said the home secretary had written to all states but there was no response.

Dave pledged to place the data before the court next week.

While hearing a petition by death row convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, the court had Nov 15 expanded the scope of the hearing to include even the cases where there was inordinate delay in deciding mercy petitions but due to ignorance and other reasons the convicts did not seek relief.

In its order, the court had appointed senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and T.R. Andhyarujina as amicus curiae to assist it.

While expanding the scope of the hearing, the court had said it would look into cases where mercy petitions were submitted to the president or the governor and how these were dealt with and whether these were disposed of or not.

Sentenced to death for a 1993 blast in Delhi which killed nine people, Bhullar had moved the apex court challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the president after eight long years.

He had filed his mercy petition Jan 14, 2003 and it was rejected by the president May 25, 2011.

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