CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has refused to interfere with the President’s order reducing the death sentence of three convicts to life imprisonment with the condition that they should not be given any remissions before their natural death. The power of the President under Article 72 is absolute and wide in amplitude. He is well within his powers to impose conditions while granting pardon, Justice N Anand Venkatesh said.
The judge was dismissing three criminal original petitions from Radhakrishnan, C Selvam and Sheik Meeran who sought to declare the condition (set by the President) null and void and direct the TN government to consider their plea for premature release either under the 1994 Scheme of Premature Release of Life Convicts or under the GO dated February 1, 2018.
The petitioners were sentenced to death by an order, dated October, 5, 1998 of the Principal Sessions Judge, Tirunelveli. The order was confirmed by the High Court in April, 1999. The Supreme Court also upheld the sentence by dismissing the special leave petitions of the petitioners in June and also their review petitions in July in the same year.
The petitioners had submitted mercy petitions to the TN Governor, who rejected them. Thereafter, they approached the President, who in February 2012 commuted their death sentence to life imprisonment with the condition that they should not be granted any remission under any head. Now the petitioners have completed 24 years of imprisonment.
Rejecting their prayer, Justice Venkatesh observed that as rightly argued by Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan, the pardon and the condition imposed in this case came as a package. It has to be either taken as a whole or dropped as a whole. The accused cannot be permitted to take the beneficial portion and later question the condition that comes with the pardon. “The President would have taken into consideration the merits of the case..” the judge said.