The apex court will hear the petition filed by advocate Shamik Narain, on behalf of the four convicts, on Wednesday
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed till Wednesday the execution of four associates of slain forest brigand Veerappan. This follows a petition filed on their behalf by advocate Shamik Narain, seeking commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment. The petition will be heard on Wednesday.
Their mercy petitions had been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.
A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen granted liberty to the petitioner to amend the petition by making the four convicts parties.
Earlier, the Chief Justice told senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Mr. Narain, that the petition in the present form was not maintainable. Counsel said he had received photo copies of the authorisation and the convicts’ vakkalatnamas. Their families had also given vakkalatnamas and the originals sent through courier would be received in a day or two and he should be permitted to amend the petition.
Simon, Gnanaprakash, Madaiah and Bilavendra, who were convicted of killing 22 persons in landmine blasts in Palar, are in the Hindalga Central Jail in Belgaum since 2004.
Mr. Gonsalves said that a Bench headed by Justice Singhvi had reserved judgment in the Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar case, whose mercy plea has suffered a long delay. The court in that case had appointed senior counsels Ram Jethmalani and T.R. Andhyarujina as amicus curiae to assist it. The case of killers of Rajiv Gandhi was transferred to this court to be heard after the judgment, Mr. Gonsalves said. The judgment would have a bearing on all similar matters, he said and prayed for commutation on the ground of the delay.
Stay executions until Bhullar case verdict
Chief Justice asked Attorney-General G. E. Vahanvati to examine the question of delay in disposal of mercy petitions. Mr. Vahanvati said the petition was not maintainable. The petitioner had not even mentioned why the four convicts were convicted, he said and added “they were sentenced for a crime against the state.” When the Chief Justice said “what is important is the question of delay,” Mr. Vahanvati said “the President cannot forecast [the Bhullar judgment] and decide an issue.”
Mr. T.R. Andhyarujina, who along with Ram Jethmalani is assisting the Justice Singhvi Bench as amicus curiae in the Bhullar case, said that Bench had called for files relating to all mercy petitions and reserved judgment in April 2012 and the decision would have a bearing on all cases.
Mr. Jethmalani urged the court not to stand on technicalities and pleaded for a stay on the execution. He said in ‘death cases’ a two-judge Bench headed by Justice Chinnappa Reddy had laid down a proposition of law that the whole process of trial, appeals and mercy petitions should be decided within two years and this judgment was followed by the Privy Council and House of Lords. However, this judgment was whittled down by a three-judge Bench. Until the judgment was pronounced in the Bhullar case, all executions must be stayed.