SC seeks details of mercy pleas before president
In a significant move, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to furnish details of 18 mercy pleas, including that of Parliament attack death convict Afzal Guru, pending disposal before the President.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya also asked eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani to file written submissions on "whether the President should objectively apply mind while deciding mercy petitions".
The apex court felt that the role of the state was perhaps advisory and the final verdict is of the President.
The court passed directions while dealing with the appeal filed by death convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, challenging the undue delay in disposal of his mercy petition by the President.
The bench asked Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval to produce the files relating to 18 death row convicts whose mercy petitions are pending for disposal for the past one to seven years.
Appearing for Bhullar, senior counsel K T S Tulsi told the court that between 1997 and 2011, the President has disposed off 32 mercy petitions, 13 of which were done after a 10-year wait.
He submitted 14 other cases were disposed off after a delay ranging between four and 10 years, while the remaining cases were disposed off between one-four years.
Earlier Jethmalani told the court that there should not be even a day's delay in disposal of the mercy petition of the convict as it was violative of the persons right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
He submitted that section 302 IPC prescribes a maximum sentence of death but delay in execution of the death sentence or disposal of the mercy petition amounted to imposing additional punishment on the convict "if not sanctioned by law".