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  India   All India  23 Jan 2020  Centre seeks shorter time for filing mercy pleas

Centre seeks shorter time for filing mercy pleas

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 23, 2020, 1:15 am IST
Updated : Jan 23, 2020, 1:15 am IST

The Centre’s petition comes amid anger over the delay in the Nirbhaya convicts’ hanging.

In case the case of Mukesh, the President has already rejected his mercy petition but Vinay Sharma has yet to file mercy petition. (Representational Image)
 In case the case of Mukesh, the President has already rejected his mercy petition but Vinay Sharma has yet to file mercy petition. (Representational Image)

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its “convict centric” guidelines in death sentence cases to “victim centric” as it sought shorter, tighter deadlines for hanging convicts after their death warrant has been issued.

Arguing that the current rules are skewed towards the convicts and allowed them to “play with the law and delay execution,” the Centre said in its petition that once a death warrant has been issued, the death row convicts should have seven days’ time to file mercy petitions to the President. And once that is rejected, the convict should be executed within seven days, and not 14 days.

 

The Centre’s petition comes amid anger over the delay in the Nirbhaya convicts’ hanging.

Seeking shortening of period between the rejection of the mercy petition and the execution of death sentence, the Centre has sought the modification of top court’s January 21, 2014, guidelines which said that there would be a gap of minimum 14 days between the rejection of the mercy petition by the President and the execution of death sentence.

The Centre’s application said that all the guidelines are “accused centric” and do not take into account the “irreparable mental Centre seeks shorter time for filing mercy pleas trauma, agony, upheaval and derangement of the victims and their family members, the collective conscience of the nation and the deterrent effect which the capital punishment intends to make.” It added that the need of the hour is to lay down guidelines in the interest of the victims instead of keeping the rights of the convicts in mind.

 

The application also says those convicted of heinous crimes take shelter of Article 21 (right to life) and take the “judicial process for a ride.”

Of the 11 guidelines issues by the top court on January 21, 2014, one said that there would be a minimum of 14-days’ notice for execution.

The guideline sought to be modified says, “It is necessary that a minimum period of 14 days be stipulated between the receipt of communication of the rejection of the mercy petition and the scheduled date of execution for the following reasons: It allows the prisoner to prepare himself mentally for execution, to make his peace with god, prepare his will and settle other earthly affairs and have a last and final meeting with his family members.”

 

The Union home ministry, which has moved the application has sought direction that if a death row convict wants to file mercy petition then it would be mandatory for the convict file mercy petition “within a period of seven days from the date of receipt of death warrant issued by the competent court.”

The application by the Centre has also sought direction that a death row convict, after the rejection of his review petition seeking the reconsideration of the top court verdict upholding the death sentence, would file curative petition within a time frame to be stipulated by the top court and not thereafter.

It has urged the top court to “mandate all the competent courts, State governments, prison authorities in the country to issue death warrant of a convict within seven days of the rejection of his mercy petition and to execute death sentence within seven days thereafter irrespective of the stage of review petition/curative petition/mercy petition of his co-convicts”.

 

The Centre’s move appears to be rooted in Nirbhaya case in which after the rejection of curative petition of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh by the top court,  the curative petitions of otherb two convicts Pawan Gupta and Akshay Kumar Singh is still to be filed.

In case the case of Mukesh, the President has already rejected his mercy petition but Vinay Sharma has yet to file mercy petition.

A Delhi court has issued death warrant of all the four convicts to be executed on February 1. Earlier death warrant had fixed January 22 for the execution of four.

However, since the convicts had not exhausted all the legal remedies, the date was changed to February 1, 2020.

 

Tags: nirbhaya case