Supreme Court asks for mercy plea detailsNovember 15th, 2011 - 11:34 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the government to furnish details of all mercy petitions of death row convicts pending before the president and state governors.
An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay said they will examine all 17 mercy petitions pending for several years before President Pratibha Patil seeking commutation of death sentences into life imprisonment.
“Keeping in view the importance of the issue and the fact that a large number of persons are not in a position to move the court, as has been done by the petitioner (Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar) in this case, we have requested senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and T.R. Andhyarujina to assist the court and they have accepted,” the court said.
The court order to expand the scope of the hearing on delay in deciding on mercy pleas came on a petition by Bhullar challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the president after eight years.
Bhullar was given capital punishment for a 1993 blast in Delhi which killed nine people. He had filed his mercy petition Jan 14, 2003 and it was rejected by the president May 25.
He has sought the commuting of his death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds that he was awarded death sentence on the basis of a split verdict, his conviction was on the strength of confessional statement made to police and delay in rejecting his mercy plea.
The court said that it could not limit itself to hearing pleas only from those death row convicts who had access to legal recourse.
The court asked Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval to tell the court as to how many mercy petitions had been filed before the president and governors. In how many cases, the power to commute a death sentence had been exercised and how many times.
The ASG was asked to specifically produce all the records between 2005-11. It is the period when Bhullar’s mercy petition was pending with the president.
The court said that it would look into when these were submitted to the president or the governor and how these were dealt with and whether it was dispose off or not.
Some people may access the judicial procedure and some may not. Are they informed that they also have a right to make a representation, the court said.
Noting that the court should consider all the cases pending before the president and governors, the court said that it was not necessary that some people or some applicant might come forward and some may not especially those who had no access to judicial system.
“He is an insignificant guy but in others many quarters are interested, but we must consider all the cases,” the court said.
The court asked Raval to submit details on the pending mercy petitions in four weeks and directed the listing of the case in the second week of January next year.
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Tags: apex court, bhullar, commutation, confessional statement, court bench, death row convicts, death sentence, death sentences, harin, legal recourse, life imprisonment, mercy petition, mercy petitions, mukhopadhyay, president pratibha patil, ram jethmalani, senior counsel, solicitor general, split verdict, state governors