Bombay HC refuses to stay execution of killer sisters


The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the execution of two sisters convicted for killing six children and abducting 13, after the Maharashtra government made a statement that it will not execute the death sentence soon. The sisters' mercy petition was recently rejected by the President. They have now approached the Bombay High Court seeking prohibition of the execution of death sentence and commutation of sentence to life imprisonment.

The review mercy petition has also sought quashing and setting aside of the President’s order rejecting the mercy petition, and declaring it as “illegal, void and unenforceable”.

Sisters Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit from Kolhapur, were booked in 1996 for abducting and killing children. The prosecution said they kidnapped the children for earning their living by making the children beg. Those who refused were killed mercilessly by the accused. The Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court had confirmed their death sentence. Even the President, in his recent order, refused to grant mercy to the two women.

"We don't want to grant stay because once it is granted, it continues. We want to hear the petitioners at length tomorrow (Wednesday). Prima facie, we are of the view that once the mercy petition has been filed and rejected, under Article 32 (of the Indian Constitution), they will have to approach the apex court for violation of Article 21," the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said on Tuesday.

"If death penalty has been confirmed, mercy petition has been dismissed, why shouldn't law take its own course? Once the process is over and the decision is taken, the State has to take it to its logical conclusion. What is the point of having death sentence? If it is there in the statute book, it has to be followed to the end without delay," the division bench observed.

The court directed the State government to compile the recent judgements of the Supreme Court on whether the High Court had the power to exercise writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. It also asked the petitioners to show how the High Court can consider the plea after the President had rejected the mercy plea.

When the petitioners sought interim stay on the execution, the court refused. "We can't show any mercy. All those children who died, even the President did not grant mercy. There are 13 cases of abduction. There are six deaths by banging against the rocks," the judges observed.

The petitioners represented by Advocate Sudeep Jaiswal submitted that the High Court was empowered to commute the sentence even after the mercy plea was rejected by the President. They pleaded that there were procedural lapses and that there was a delay of eight years in deciding on the mercy plea.

Thereafter, the court directed the State to provide statistical data about the number of cases where death penalty has been confirmed by the High Court and the Supreme Court, and the mercy plea has been rejected, and still the death sentence has been commuted. The court also sought details about the circumstances which led to the commutation of such sentences.

The petition has claimed that the delay of eight years in deciding on the mercy petition was in “flagrant violation of Articles 21 and 14 (of the Constitution) and was “unfair, cruel, excessive, unexplained and arbitrary.” It said the delay had caused “immense mental torture, emotional and physical agony to the petitioners.”

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:08:42 PM |

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