‘Every execution was done after completion of judicial, constitutional formalities’

The execution of the Parliament attack convict, Mohammad Afzal Guru, was carried out by the Delhi government in accordance with the Delhi Jail Manual, the Centre has submitted before the Madras High Court.

Execution of death convicts was being carried out by the State government/Union Territory administration concerned as per their jail manual. The Centre had nothing to interfere with the State subject when executions were carried out as per the jail manual.

The Union government was responding to a writ petition before a Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M.Venugopal. The petitioner, Prisoner Rights Forum, represented by its director, P. Pugalenthi, sought to restrain the Centre from executing persons whose death sentence were confirmed by the Supreme Court and their mercy petitions were pending with the President. He also said hangings should be disclosed to the public, the convicts concerned and their family members in that they should be informed that the mercy petition had been rejected.

In a counter-affidavit, Rakesh Jhingan, Under Secretary, Union Home Ministry, said as per Entry 4 in the List-II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, “prison” is a State subject. If a mercy petition was submitted to the Governor or the President, the convict concerned was executed only after the petition was rejected. The State authorities carried out the execution in accordance with their jail manuals. Afzal Guru was hanged as per the jail manual. Every execution was done after completion of judicial and constitutional formalities and also due procedure. Hence, such executions did not violate the fundamental right. In the Triveniben’s case, the Supreme Court had held that no fixed period of delay could be held to make the death sentence inexecutable.

The Centre communicated the President’s decision to the State government/Union Territory concerned and to the petitioner through the State administration. Further action was taken by the State government concerned as per the jail manual.

The mercy petition of an individual was totally his personal information. No public interest was involved, the counter said.

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