Govt may Seek Review of SC Order on Death Row Convicts
The Centre is likely to file a review petition against the recent Supreme Court order in which it held that inordinate and inexplicable delay by the government in deciding the mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence.
Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra appearing for the Centre informed a Bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam that “the Centre is considering for seeking review in the case”. The ASG’s submission came in the wake of a hearing in which the court was taking up the plea of three death convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case seeking commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment citing delay of over 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions by the President.
The court, which was to hear the case on Wednesday, posted it for Thursday when the Centre asked more time to respond in the case. On this, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the condemned prisoners -- Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan -- said he suspected that the government was trying to delay the case. “I have a strong suspicion that they want to take time in the case so that they can file review petition (on apex court verdict holding that delay in deciding mercy plea can be a ground for commuting death sentence),” Jethmalani said.
The court then decided to take up the case on Thursday when it would hear the plea of petitioners and Attorney General G E Vahanvati will make submission on behalf of the Centre on February 4.
The court had on May 2012 decided to hear the pleas of Rajiv’s assassins against their death penalty and had directed that their petitions, pending with the Madras High Court, be sent to it as a petition was filed stating that free and fair hearing would not possible in the state due to the surcharged atmosphere, favouring the death row convicts.
Their main contention was that the delay in disposal of the mercy petitions by 11 years and four months made the execution of the death sentence “unduly harsh and excessive.”