Source: The Hindu
Manifest pedagogy: With the delay in Nirbhaya case verdict and a central government plea for soceity centric guidelines in case of death penalty, different Supreme Court decisions in this regard is important for UPSC mains.
In news: Central government had pushed for faster review of mercy petitions in Nirbhaya case.
Placing it in syllabus: Death penalty in India
Static dimensions: Judgement in the Shatrughan case
- Criticisms against the case during Nirbhaya judgement
- Recommendations made to correct loopholes
Judgement in the case:
- The then Chief Justice P. Sathasivam had delivered the judgement in Shatrughan Chauhan case in 2014.
- The undue delay by President in rejecting mercy to a death row convict amounts to torture.
- Such inordinate and unexplained delay by the President is sufficient in itself to entitle the convict to a commutation.
- The court had refused to fix a certain number of years above which undue delay would amount to torture.
- The crime in question is irrelevant while deciding the effects of keeping a death row prisoner waiting for a decision on his or her mercy petition.
- The suffering that comes with anticipating death on an every day basis for the judges amounted to torture, which was violative of the Right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Criticisms against the case during Nirbhaya judgement:
- Due to “deliberate delays” in the execution of four Nirbhaya convicts, the Central government had moved a petition in January, 2020, before the Supreme Court to consider “victim centric” and “society-centric” guidelines.
- The plea by the Ministry of Home Affairs came in the aftermath of the four Nirbhaya convicts separately and repeatedly approaching the courts for one relief or the other.
- Their execution dates were kept on extended for months before they were hanged on March 20, 2020.
- The guidelines laid down in the 2014 judgement of Shatrughan Chauhan case set out provisions for curative plea even after the appeal process at every judicial level and review plea in the Supreme Court.
- The 2014 verdict was blamed as “accused-centric”.
- Hence the government had argued that there have been several instances where the convicts “under the garb of Article 21 took the judicial process for a ride” and sought modification of the guidelines.
- These guidelines did not take into account of irreparable mental trauma, agony and upheaval of the victims and their family members and the deterrent effect which the capital punishment intends to make.
Recommendations made to correct loopholes:
- The rules currently in place call for death penalty to be carried out for all convicts at the same time.
- This, according to the government, allows convicts to move different petitions one after the other and delay the process.
- The MHA, in its plea filed through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, urged the court to fix a time limit within which the convict of death sentence should file curative petition.
- The 14 day period for mercy plea should be reduced to 7 days.
- If a mercy plea has already been rejected, a death warrant should be issued within the next seven days and execution carried out a week thereafter.
- The pendency of review or curative petitions of his co-convicts would be of no consequence for a man whose mercy plea has been rejected.
Mould your thought: Critically analyse the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court on death penalty in Shatrughan Chauhan case. How can the loopholes in the judgement be corrected?