SC asks for Centre’s response on plea for timely disposal of mercy petitions

Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to respond to a plea for framing specific guidelines for the timely disposal of mercy petitions in death penalty cases.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde said it may direct the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to fix a time limit for placing the mercy petition before the President.

The court asked the Centre to file its response in four weeks to the petition filed by Shiv Kumar Tripathi, who contended that there were no guidelines for disposal of mercy petitions within a particular time-frame.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said he needed time to seek instructions and respond to the query. The Bench said the format of a mercy petition was not as important as fixing a time limit for placing it before the President.

In his plea, Mr. Tripathi said there was no specified written procedure and guidelines for disposing of mercy petitions within a time-bound manner. This has resulted in “arbitrariness”.

Delay creates confusion

“It also leads to undue delay in disposal of the mercy petitions and thus giving rise to public unrest and creates doubts and suspicion in the mind of public at large,” it said.

The plea said that in some cases, due to the prolonged delay in disposal of mercy petitions, convicts had got death penalty converted into life imprisonment.

“The victims and their families feel cheated in such cases,” the petition argued.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 7:32:20 AM |

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