It further said that it was not necessary for the authorities to call for the opinion of the jail superintendent.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea by Mukesh Kumar, a death row convict in the Nirbhaya case, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind on the ground that all relevant material on the case was not put before the President, and thus there was non-application of mind.
Holding all documents were taken into consideration by the President and the swift rejection of the mercy plea could not be a ground for its reconsideration by the court, Justices R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A.S. Bopanna said in their order that there was no ground for the exercise of judicial review of the President’s order rejecting the mercy petition.
“We do not find any ground for exercise of judicial review of the order of the President of India rejecting the petitioner’s mercy petition and this petition is liable to be dismissed”, said the order on Wednesday.
The court rejected all the claims made by Mukesh, including that all relevant material relating to the case was not considered, rejection of the mercy petition was done at a “lightning speed” with “pre-determined mind”, thus there was “non-application of mind”, his being kept in solitary confinement, and subjected to indignities, including being repeatedly beaten up and sexually harassed.
“The court shall keep in mind that where the power is vested in a very high authority, it must be presumed that the said authority would act carefully after an objective consideration of all the aspects of the matter”, the order said, brushing aside the contention that the mercy plea was decided without considering the entire material.
Speaking for the bench Justice Banumathi said: “Merely because there was quick consideration and rejection of the petitioner’s mercy petition, it cannot be assumed that the matter was preceded with a pre-determined mind.”
The court further said the “quick consideration of the mercy petition and swift rejection of the same cannot be a ground for judicial review of the order passed under Article 72/161 of the Constitution. Nor does it suggest that there was pre-determined mind and non-application of mind.”
Holding that the swift rejection of the mercy petition could not be a ground for judicial reconsideration of the presidential order, the court noted solicitor-general Tushar Mehta’s submission that a delay in disposal of the mercy petition may be a ground calling for judicial review of the order passed under Article 72/161 of the Constitution.
Addressing the contention about the absence of the recommendation of the Tihar jail superintendent while sending the case material along with the mercy plea, the court said considering the “high position of the President” and the “constitutional duty” which he is discharging, it may not be “appropriate” for the jail superintendent to express views about the subsequent conduct of the prisoner while in prison unless the situation so warrants. It further said that it was not necessary for the authorities to call for the opinion of the jail superintendent.