Sunday, January 8, 2012

‘Pendency of mercy plea isn’t cruelty’ - PIL by NGO ‘Justice on Trial Trust’

The government took 11 years to reject the mercy pleas of three condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and five years to decide a similar request by Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru but it told the Supreme Court that long pendency of such pleas could not be termed cruel acts that added to the suffering of the person awarded death penalty.
“The pendency of mercy petition cannot be said to be an act of cruelty or an act which adds to the suffering of the prisoner. In fact, it is the pendency of the mercy petition which has given a lease of life to the prisoner, albeit in prison, until a decision is taken on the mercy petition,” the ministry of home affairs said in an affidavit filed in the apex court on Friday.
“The court cannot prescribe a time limit for the disposal of the mercy petition after itself having found that in public interest, as per the procedure established by law, a convict must be deprived of his right to life,” the ministry’s affidavit filed through advocate T A Khan said in response to a PIL by NGO ‘Justice on Trial Trust’.
The NGO had alleged that because of absence of policy, framework or guidelines for deciding mercy pleas of condemned prisoners, the government took an unduly long time to either commute the death sentences to life imprisonment or reject the request for mercy.
The ministry said the delay in deciding the mercy petition augured well for condemned prisoners. “Looking at it from the point of view of the prisoner, he would like his mercy petition to be allowed and if it is not allowed immediately, he would like his mercy petition to remain pending as long as possible and certainly not be rejected,” it said.
It said time taken for disposal of mercy petitions depended on the number of such pleas submitted on behalf of the convicted person. “Delay in disposal of mercy petition is not a mitigating circumstance for the commutation of death sentence and also does not reduce the gravity of the crime. The powers of the President (to allow commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment) under Article 72 of the Constitution are discretionary powers which cannot be taken away by any statutory provision and cannot be altered, modified or interfered,” it said.
Full Judgement

No comments:

Post a Comment