No Noose to Rajiv Killers as SC Applies Delay Norm

Describes taking 11 yrs to decide mercy petitions of Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan as extra-legal, excessive; commutes sentence to life imprisonment

Published: 19th February 2014 08:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2014 08:34 AM   |  A+A-

Setting a precedent for all death row convicts whose mercy petitions have been pending for long, the Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of three condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life imprisonment, citing the delay of 11 years. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India

P Sathasivam rejected the Centre’s submission that there was no unreasonable delay in deciding their mercy plea and the condemned prisoners did not go through agonising experience as they were enjoying life behind bars.

The bench said it was unable to accept the Centre’s view and commuted the death sentence of convicts Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to imprisonment for life, subject to remission by the government. “Exorbitant delay in disposal of mercy petition renders the process of execution of death sentence arbitrary, whimsical and capricious and, therefore, inexecutable... Such imprisonment, occasioned by inordinate delay in disposal of mercy petitions, is beyond the sentence accorded by the court and to that extent is extra-legal and excessive,” it observed.

Asking the authorities concerned to expedite the procedure of mercy petitions, the court ruled: “The apex constitutional authorities must exercise the power under Article 72/161 within the bounds of constitutional discipline and should dispose of mercy petitions filed before them in an expeditious manner.” “Regardless and independent of the suffering it causes, delay makes the process of execution of death sentence unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious and thereby, violates procedural due process guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and the dehumanizing effect is presumed in such cases.”

“This Court has consistently held that prolonged delay in execution of death sentence... gives rise to mental suffering and agony which renders the... execution of death sentence inhuman and barbaric. Such a prerequisite would render... rights guaranteed under... the Constitution beyond the reach of death-row convicts and will make them nugatory and inaccessible for all intent and purposes,” said the 20-page judgment.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp