The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Centre’s plea seeking review of its ruling holding that undue delay by the government in deciding mercy plea can be a ground to commute death sentence of a condemned prisoner.
The court rejected the Centre’s contention that the January 21 judgment by which 15 convicts were granted life and paved the way for similar relief for Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, is “patently illegal and suffers from errors”. “We have gone through the review petitions and the connected papers. We find no merit in the review petitions and the same are accordingly dismissed,” said a Bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh. The Bench, which decided the review petition in chamber, rejected the submission of the Centre that such an important issue should have been heard by a Constitution Bench and the judgment passed by a three-judge bench was without “jurisdiction”. It did not accept the Centre’s submission referring to an earlier apex court order in which it said that the nature of crime be examined while commuting death sentence. The government had said the verdict observed there is a “distinction” between TADA and other offences.