Should we lay down the law on mercy pleas, asks SC

“Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if a Governor allowed a mercy plea that the President had previously rejected?”

July 23, 2015 02:08 am | Updated November 28, 2021 07:40 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre whether it should lay down the law on the procedure for moving mercy petitions, apparently in response to reports that the lone death row convict in the 1993 serial blasts case, Yakub Memon, had moved his before the Maharashtra Governor.

A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu asked Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar whether there were any rules of procedure or provisions of law concerning moving of mercy pleas by condemned prisoners before the President and the Governor. Wouldn’t the President be left in an embarrassing situation if a Governor allowed a mercy plea that the former had rejected, it wanted to know.

“Repeated filing of mercy pleas frustrates the principle of finality,” Mr. Kumar responded. He agreed to take instructions from the government and get back to the court.

The exchange in open court is significant as it was the three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice that dismissed Memon’s curative petition on Tuesday. The questions came from the Chief Justice during a day-long hearing of a writ petition filed by the Centre to restrain the power of remission of State governments to release condemned prisoners whose sentence was commuted to life.

In its order on the curative petition, the Supreme Court had held that no principles of natural justice were violated while deciding Memon’s case, which dealt with the serial blasts that rocked the financial capital of the country, killing 257 people and injuring over 700.

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