The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of eight death row prisoners, all convicted in murder cases, whose clemency pleas were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee last week.
One of the eight, Praveen Kumar, is from Mangalore and is currently lodged in the Belgaum jail. He was sentenced for killing all the members of his paternal aunt’s family.
Staying their execution for four weeks, a two-judge bench, during an urgent hearing held late on Saturday evening, expressed concern that a situation like the Jammu and Kashmir incident should not arise.
Though they did not refer to Afzal Guru, the bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and M Y Eqbal said the intimation of the execution reached the relatives of the person after his hanging and they could not meet the prisoner for one last time before he was hanged.
The communication regarding the rejection of Guru’s mercy plea and his subsequent execution had reached his relatives two days after he was hanged on February 9.
The bench, which had its hearing at Justice Sathasivam’s residence, said, “There shall be stay of execution of the death sentence in respect of the eight petitioners. Notice to the states concerned returnable in four weeks.”
The bench passed the order on the petitions filed by relatives of the death row convicts and civil rights group People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR).
The urgent hearing took place as the petitioners feared they would be executed following the rejection of their mercy petitions by the President.
In its petition, PUDR challenged the rejection of their mercy pleas, saying there had been a delay in carrying out their execution, even after it was confirmed by the Apex Court. The convicts are lodged in various jails across the country.