advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mercy petitions - Extraordinary delay in disposing of mercy petition by the office of President - with out the fault of accused are entitled for commutation of death sentence in to life and whether the accused has to prove his sorrow before getting commutation due to delay in president office - Apex court held that Delay itself is enough to say the sorrowful conditions of the accused - no positive proof is necessary and apart from the accused pleaded the same in their letters too - Apex court allowed the petitions = V. Sriharan @ Murugan .... Petitioner (s) Versus Union of India & Ors. .... Respondent(s) = 2014 ( Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41228

Mercy petitions - Extraordinary delay in disposing of mercy petition by the office of President - with out the fault of accused are entitled for commutation of death sentence in to life and whether the accused has to prove his sorrow before getting commutation due to delay in president office - Apex court held that Delay itself is enough to say the sorrowful conditions of the accused - no positive proof is necessary and apart from the accused pleaded the same in their letters too - Apex court allowed the petitions =
 [Allowing a person to live under a freezed condition is more severe punishment than death  punishment - No words No signs require to define his story - his status itself speaks the facts..............advocatemmmohan]

whether  in
Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), this Court, laid down for actually  proving  the
dehumanizing effect on the  accused  or  mere  unreasonable  and  inordinate
delay on face of it is sufficient  for  commutation  of  death  sentence  to
life. =

 the argument that the petitioners are under a  legal  obligation
to produce evidence of their sufferings and harm caused to them  on  account
of prolonged delay is unknown  to  law  and  will  be  misinterpretation  of
Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra).   

 There is no obligation on the  convict
to demonstrate specific ill effects of suffering and agony on his  mind  and
body as a prerequisite for commutation of sentence of death.


 “Sir, 16 years have passed since I and my wife were  imprisoned.   The
      female child born to us in jail  is  suffering  without  security  and
      education as a nomad.  During this long time, the suffering  undergone
      and undergoing now by our family members can not  be  said  in  words.
      Thinking of punishing me have punished my entire family.  So, my  life
      in jail has become a living death.”
Shatrughan Chauhan  &  Anr.  vs.  Union  of  India  &  Ors.  [Writ  Petition
(Criminal) No. 55 of 2013 etc.] decided on  21.01.2014
The relevant portion of  Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), is as under:-

      “42) Accordingly, if there is undue, unexplained and inordinate  delay
      in execution due to pendency of mercy petitions or  the  executive  as
      well as the  constitutional  authorities  have  failed  to  take  note
      of/consider the relevant aspects, this Court is well within its powers
      under Article 32 to hear the grievance of the convict and commute  the
      death sentence into life imprisonment on this  ground  alone  however,
      only after satisfying that the delay was not caused at the instance of
      the accused himself…”


                  ***       ***        ***


      “54) … Therefore, in the light of the aforesaid elaborate  discussion,
      we are of the cogent view  that  undue,  inordinate  and  unreasonable
      delay in execution of  death  sentence  does  certainly  attribute  to
      torture which indeed is in violation of Article 21 and thereby entails
      as the ground for commutation of  sentence.  However,  the  nature  of
      delay i.e. whether it is undue or  unreasonable  must  be  appreciated
      based on the facts of individual cases and  no  exhaustive  guidelines
      can be framed in this regard.”

Accordingly, the case at hand has to be decided under the guidance  of
this  judgment.  The  two  principles  stipulated  in   the   judgment   for
commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment on the ground of  delay
as the supervening circumstance are firstly, that the  delay  occurred  must
be inordinate and secondly, that  the  delay  must  not  be  caused  at  the
instance of the accused. 

2014 ( Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41228
P SATHASIVAM, RANJAN GOGOI, SHIVA KIRTI SINGH
                                                                REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                 1 TRANSFERRED CASE (CRIMINAL) NO. 1 OF 2012


V. Sriharan @ Murugan                               .... Petitioner (s)

            Versus

Union of India & Ors.                    .... Respondent(s)

                                      2


                                 3     WITH


4


                 5 TRANSFERRED CASE (CRIMINAL) NO. 2 OF 2012


T. Suthendraraja @ Santhan                          .... Petitioner (s)

            Versus

Union of India & Ors.                    .... Respondent(s)


                 6 TRANSFERRED CASE (CRIMINAL) NO. 3 OF 2012


A.G. Perarivalan @ Arivu                             .... Petitioner (s)

            Versus

Union of India & Ors.                     .... Respondent(s)

                               J U D G M E N T



P.Sathasivam, CJI.




1) The above transferred cases which were borne out of  the  writ  petitions
filed by V.  Sriharan  @  Murugan,  T.  Suthendraraja  @  Santhan  and  A.G.
Perarivalan @ Arivu in the Madras High Court and which  got  transferred  to
this Court under Article 139A of  the  Constitution  of  India  raise  vital
issues pertaining to violation of fundamental rights of death  row  convicts
ensuing from inordinate delay caused at the hands of executive  in  deciding
the mercy petitions filed under Article 72/161 of the Constitution.  In  all
the writ petitions,  the  petitioners  prayed  for  a  writ  of  declaration
declaring that the execution of the  sentence  of  death,  pursuant  to  the
letter No. F.No.14/1/1999-Judicial  Cell  dated  12.08.2011  issued  by  the
Union of India, is unconstitutional and thus sought for commutation  of  the
sentence of death to imprisonment for life.

2)    Akin to this issue was decided  by  us  in  a  recent  judgment  viz.,
Shatrughan Chauhan  &  Anr.  vs.  Union  of  India  &  Ors.  [Writ  Petition
(Criminal) No. 55 of 2013 etc.] decided on  21.01.2014  wherein  this  Court
held that execution of sentence of death on the accused notwithstanding  the
existence of supervening circumstances, is in violation  of  Article  21  of
the Constitution. One of the supervening circumstances  sanctioned  by  this
Court for commutation of  death  sentence  into  life  imprisonment  is  the
undue, inordinate and unreasonable delay in execution of death  sentence  as
it attributes to torture. However, this Court,  cogently  clarified  in  its
verdict that the nature of delay i.e. whether it is  undue  or  unreasonable
must be appreciated based on facts of individual  cases  and  no  exhaustive
guidelines can be framed in this regard.
The relevant portion of  Shatrughan
Chauhan (supra), is as under:-

      “42) Accordingly, if there is undue, unexplained and inordinate  delay
      in execution due to pendency of mercy petitions or  the  executive  as
      well as the  constitutional  authorities  have  failed  to  take  note
      of/consider the relevant aspects, this Court is well within its powers
      under Article 32 to hear the grievance of the convict and commute  the
      death sentence into life imprisonment on this  ground  alone  however,
      only after satisfying that the delay was not caused at the instance of
      the accused himself…”


                  ***       ***        ***


      “54) … Therefore, in the light of the aforesaid elaborate  discussion,
      we are of the cogent view  that  undue,  inordinate  and  unreasonable
      delay in execution of  death  sentence  does  certainly  attribute  to
      torture which indeed is in violation of Article 21 and thereby entails
      as the ground for commutation of  sentence.  However,  the  nature  of
      delay i.e. whether it is undue or  unreasonable  must  be  appreciated
      based on the facts of individual cases and  no  exhaustive  guidelines
      can be framed in this regard.”


3)    Accordingly, the case at hand has to be decided under the guidance  of
this  judgment.  The  two  principles  stipulated  in   the   judgment   for
commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment on the ground of  delay
as the supervening circumstance are firstly, that the  delay  occurred  must
be inordinate and secondly, that  the  delay  must  not  be  caused  at  the
instance of the accused. Let us assess the facts of the given  case  in  the
light of established principles in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra).


Factual Background:

4)    In these petitions, we are concerned only with the  rejection  of  the
mercy petitions of the petitioners by the President of India  under  Article
72 of the Constitution after the confirmation  of  death  sentence  by  this
Court, thus there is no need to traverse the factual details leading  up  to
the imposition of death sentence.

5)    Initially, the mercy petitions  were  filed  before  the  Governor  of
Tamil Nadu on 17.10.1999 and  the  Governor,  on  27.10.1999,  rejected  the
same.  Subsequently, the said rejection was  challenged  before  the  Madras
High Court in W.P. Nos. 17655-17658 of 1999 on the  ground  that  the  mercy
petitions were decided without consulting the Council  of  Ministers,  which
is unsustainable in  law.   Accordingly,  by  order  dated  25.11.1999,  the
Madras High Court set aside the order of rejection  of  mercy  petitions  by
the  Governor  and  directed  to  reconsider  the  mercy  petitions  afresh.
Thereafter, on 25.04.2000, the Governor again rejected the mercy  petitions.


6)    Consequently, the mercy petitions were forwarded to the  President  on
26.04.2000 for consideration under  Article  72  of  the  Constitution.  The
President, on 12.08.2011, rejected these mercy petitions after  a  delay  of
more  than  11  years.   The  rejection  of  the  aforesaid  petitions   was
communicated to  the  petitioners  on  25.08.2011.  Subsequently,  the  said
rejection was also challenged in W.P. Nos. 20287-20289 of  2011  before  the
Madras High Court on  29.08.2011.  Later,  by  order  dated  01.05.2012,  in
Transfer Petition (Criminal) Nos. 383-385 of 2011 and 462-464 of 2011,  this
Court transferred all  the  three  writ  petitions  to  this  Court  in  the
interest of justice. Pursuant to the aforesaid order, the Madras High  Court
transmitted the original records to this Court, which have  been  registered
as Transferred Case (Criminal) Nos. 1-3 of 2012.  All  the  petitioners  are
currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore, Tamil Nadu and they are  in
incarceration since 1991, i.e., for more than two decades.

7)    Heard Mr. Ram  Jethmalani,  learned  senior  counsel,  Mr.  Yug  Mohit
Chaudhary, learned counsel for the petitioners and Mr. Goolam E.  Vahanvati,
learned  Attorney  General  and  Mr.  Sidharth  Luthra,  learned  Additional
Solicitor General for the Union of India.

Contentions:

8)    The only contention, as  projected  by  Mr.  Ram  Jethmalani,  learned
senior counsel  and  Mr.  Yug  Mohit  Chaudhary,  learned  counsel  for  the
petitioners is that
  in view of inordinate delay of more  than  11  years  in
disposal of  mercy  petitions,  the  sentence  of  death  imposed  upon  the
petitioners herein is liable to be commuted to life imprisonment  as  it  is
violative  of  Article  21  of  the  Constitution  in  addition  to  various
International Conventions, Universal  Declarations,  to  which  India  is  a
signatory.   In  support  of  their  contention,  they  heavily  relied   on
Shatrughan Chauhan (supra).

9)    On the other hand, Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney  General,
assisted by Mr.  Sidharth  Luthra,  learned  Additional  Solicitor  General,
submitted that the delay caused was not at the instance of the head  of  the
executive and is not unreasonable.  They  further  submitted  that  even  if
there was inordinate delay in disposal of mercy petitions in  the  light  of
the principles enunciated in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra) and  also  from  the
information furnished by the petitioners in their  affidavits  filed  before
the High Court praying for commutation, the petitioners have not made out  a
case for passing similar order  of  commutation  as  ordered  in  Shatrughan
Chauhan (supra).

Points for Consideration:

10)   Firstly, as mentioned earlier, the question
whether  inordinate  delay
in  disposing  of  mercy  petitions  is  a  supervening   circumstance   for
commutation of sentence of death into life imprisonment is well  settled  in
view of the recent verdict in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra). As a  result,  the
task before this Court is confined only to finding out
whether  the  nature
of  delay  caused  is  reasonable  or  inordinate  in  the  light   of   the
circumstances of the given case and to verify whether the delay  was  caused
at the instance of accused.

11)   The second point for consideration before this  Court  is
whether  in
Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), this Court, laid down for actually  proving  the
dehumanizing effect on the  accused  or  mere  unreasonable  and  inordinate
delay on face of it is sufficient  for  commutation  of  death  sentence  to
life.

Discussion:

12)    After  having  carefully  analyzed  all  the  materials   and   rival
contentions, now let us venture to distinctively discuss  on  the  aforesaid
issues. At the outset, let us examine whether  the  delay  of  11  years  in
disposing of mercy petitions is unreasonable and inordinate in the light  of
the facts of the given case.

13)   Following the rejection of mercy petitions of the  petitioners  herein
by the Governor  on  25.04.2000,  these  petitions  were  forwarded  to  the
Ministry of Home Affairs,  Government  of  India  on  04.05.2000.
After  an
unreasonable delay of 5 years and 1 month, on 21.06.2005,  the  Ministry  of
Home Affairs submitted the petitioners’ mercy  petitions  to  the  President
for consideration.
Thereafter, on 23.02.2011, the Ministry of  Home  Affairs
recalled the petitioners’ mercy petitions from the office of the  President.
 Here also, there was a delay of 5  years  and  8  months.
Ultimately,  the
President, on 12.08.2011, rejected these mercy petitions after  a  delay  of
more than 11 years.

14)   Across the bar, learned Attorney General, while explaining  the  delay
ensued i.e., 5 years and 1 month submitted that shortly  after  the  receipt
of the mercy petitions in 2000, a note was prepared but thereafter the  file
was lying in the drawer of some officer of the  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs,
and, hence, could not be processed. As  regards  delay  of  5  years  and  8
months, learned Attorney General fairly admitted that  this  delay  couldn’t
be explained in any way.

15)   It is, therefore, indisputable that the  delay  ensued  in  the  given
petitions is inordinate and unreasonable and the same was not caused at  the
instance of the petitioners.  Accordingly,  the  unreasonable  delay  caused
qualifies as the supervening circumstance, which  warrants  for  commutation
of sentence of death into life  imprisonment  as  stipulated  in  Shatrughan
Chauhan (supra), inter alia, the judicial decisions in Triveniben vs.  State
of Gujarat (1988) 4 SCC 574, Sher Singh and Ors. vs. State of Punjab  (1983)
2 SCC 344 and T.V. Vatheeswaran vs. State of Tamil Nadu (1983) 2 SCC 68.

16)   Exorbitant delay in disposal of mercy petition renders the process  of
execution  of  death  sentence  arbitrary,  whimsical  and  capricious  and,
therefore, inexecutable.   
Furthermore,  such  imprisonment,  occasioned  by
inordinate delay in disposal of mercy  petitions,  is  beyond  the  sentence
accorded by the court and to  that  extent  is  extra-legal  and  excessive.
Therefore, the apex  constitutional  authorities  must  exercise  the  power
under Article 72/161 within the  bounds  of  constitutional  discipline  and
should dispose of the mercy petitions filed before them  in  an  expeditious
manner.

17)   As regards the second contention, it was argued  by  learned  Attorney
General that the test laid down by this Court  in  cases  involving  delayed
mercy  petitions  requires  the  petitioners  to  actively  demonstrate  the
sufferings occasioned by the delay,  and  that  in  the  present  case,  the
petitioners have been having a  good  time  in  prison  and  they  have  not
suffered at all.  Hence, it is argued that the petitioners are not  entitled
to relief.

18)   Before we advert to respond the aforesaid contention, it  is  relevant
to comprehend the primary ground on  the  basis  of  which  the  relief  was
granted in cases of delayed disposal of the  mercy  petition  and  that  is,
such  delay  violates  the  requirement  of  a  fair,  just  and  reasonable
procedure.
Regardless and independent of the  suffering  it  causes,  delay
makes the process of  execution  of  death  sentence  unfair,  unreasonable,
arbitrary and  capricious  and  thereby,  violates  procedural  due  process
guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and the dehumanizing  effect
is presumed in such cases.
It is in this context, this Court, in past,  has
recognized that incarceration, in addition to the reasonable time  necessary
for adjudication of mercy petitions and preparation  for  execution,  flouts
the due process guaranteed to the convict under Article 21 which inheres  in
every prisoner till his last breath.

19)   This Court has consistently held that prolonged delay in execution  of
death sentence, by itself, gives rise to mental suffering  and  agony  which
renders the subsequent execution of death  sentence  inhuman  and  barbaric.
In Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), this Court held as under:

      “33)  This is not the first time when the question of such a nature is
      raised before this Court. In Ediga Anamma vs. State of  A.P.,  1974(4)
      SCC 443 Krishna Iyer, J. spoke of the “brooding horror of haunting the
      prisoner in the condemned cell for years”.   Chinnappa  Reddy,  J.  in
      Vatheeswaran (supra) said that  prolonged  delay  in  execution  of  a
      sentence  of  death  had  a  dehumanizing  effect  and  this  had  the
      constitutional implication of depriving a person of  his  life  in  an
      unjust, unfair and unreasonable way so as to  offend  the  fundamental
      right under Article 21  of  the  Constitution.   Chinnappa  Reddy,  J.
      quoted the Privy Council’s observation in a case of such an inordinate
      delay in execution, viz., “The anguish of alternating hope and despair
      the agony of uncertainty and the consequences of such suffering on the
      mental, emotional and physical integrity and health of the  individual
      has to be seen.” …”

                         ***         ***        ***

      “39)  Keeping a convict in suspense while consideration of  his  mercy
      petition by the President for many years is  certainly  an  agony  for
      him/her.  It creates adverse  physical  conditions  and  psychological
      stresses on the convict under sentence of  death.  Indisputably,  this
      Court, while considering the rejection of the clemency petition by the
      President, under Article 32 read with Article 21 of the  Constitution,
      cannot excuse the agonizing delay caused to the convict  only  on  the
      basis of the gravity of the crime.”

                         ***         ***        ***

      “43)  The procedure prescribed by law, which deprives a person of  his
      life and liberty must be just, fair and reasonable and such  procedure
      mandates humane conditions of detention preventive  or  punitive.   In
      this line, although the petitioners were sentenced to death  based  on
      the procedure established by law, the inexplicable delay on account of
      executive is unexcusable. Since it is well established that Article 21
      of the Constitution does not end with the  pronouncement  of  sentence
      but extends to the stage of execution of  that  sentence,  as  already
      asserted, prolonged delay in execution of  sentence  of  death  has  a
      dehumanizing effect on the accused.   Delay  caused  by  circumstances
      beyond the prisoners’ control mandates commutation of death  sentence.
      In fact, in Vatheeswaran (supra), particularly, in  para  10,  it  was
      elaborated where amongst other authorities, the minority view of Lords
      Scarman and Brightman in the 1972 Privy  Council  case  of  Noel  Noel
      Riley vs. Attorney General, (1982) Crl.  Law  Review  679  by  quoting
      “sentence of death is one thing, sentence of death followed by lengthy
      imprisonment prior to execution is another”.”

20)   Thus, the argument that the petitioners are under a  legal  obligation
to produce evidence of their sufferings and harm caused to them  on  account
of prolonged delay is unknown  to  law  and  will  be  misinterpretation  of
Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra).
Such  a   prerequisite   would   render   the
fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution beyond  the
reach of death-row convicts and will make  them  nugatory  and  inaccessible
for all intent and purposes. Besides, there is no requirement in Indian  law
as well as in international judgments  for  a  death-row  convict  to  prove
actual harm occasioned by the delay.  There is no obligation on the  convict
to demonstrate specific ill effects of suffering and agony on his  mind  and
body as a prerequisite for commutation of sentence of death.

21)   In any case, the petitioners have extensively pleaded  the  nature  of
their sufferings both in the petitions as well as in  the  reminder  letters
which each of them repeatedly have sent  to  the  President  which  remained
unheeded.  As regards the argument of learned Attorney  General,  viz.,  the
petitioners were enjoying  themselves  in  prison,  a  perusal  of  specific
averments in their writ petitions  filed  before  the  High  Court  shows  a
different picture.  All the petitioners highlighted that  the  delay  caused
unendurable torture to them and they repeatedly  requested  the  authorities
to forthwith decide their mercy petitions.

22)   In Transferred Case (Crl.) No. 1 of 2012 (V. Sriharan @  Murugan),  in
Writ Petition No. 20287 of 2011 filed before the High Court, in para 5,  the
petitioner has expressed his grievance in the following manner:

      “I state that the extraordinary and unjustified delay in  deciding  my
      mercy petition is  entirely  caused  by  the  office  of  the  Hon’ble
      President of India.  For each day after  the  sentence  of  death  was
      confirmed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, and while  my  mercy  petition
      was pending before the Hon’ble President of India,  my  family  and  I
      have undergone a living hell not knowing whether I would live or  die,
      and whether I would live to see another day or draw another breath, or
      whether that day and that breath would be my last.   I  state  that  I
      have been swinging between life and death for these  past  many  years
      confined in a single cell.  I state that I have  suffered  enough  and
      that it would not be in the interests  of  justice  to  compound  this
      suffering by executing me.  I submit that  the  interests  of  justice
      would be served by converting the sentence of death  to  one  of  life
      imprisonment.  I state that cases where the delay has been  less  than
      half of what it is in the present case have been held by  the  Hon’ble
      Supreme  Court  and  this  Hon’ble  Court  to  be  unconscionable  and
      excessive and in breach of  Article  21,  warranting  substitution  of
      death sentence by a sentence of life.”

 In paragraph 22, the petitioner has stated as under:

        “I state that I have been in custody since 4.6.1991, i.e.  for  more
        than 20 years.  I have  been  under  sentence  of  death  since  the
        judgment of the trial court on 28.1.1998,  i.e.  for  more  than  13
        years and 7 months.  I further state that after the rejection of  my
        review petition by the Supreme Court on 8.10.1999, i.e. for a period
        of about 11 years and 10 months, I have lived under  the  shadow  of
        the hangman’s noose.  During this period, I  have  been  kept  in  a
        single cell, with the threat of imminent death hanging over my head.
        My mercy petition was filed more than 11  years  and  4  months  ago
        (about 4100  days).   During  this  long  period,  I  have  suffered
        excruciating mental agony and torture of a kind that is difficult to
        imagine or conceptualize.  I have been  swinging  between  life  and
        death, believing every waking minute to  be  my  last,  not  knowing
        whether I will be spared or not, and when the hangman’s  noose  will
        close around my neck.   Every  person  passing  my  prison  cell  is
        imagined to be the harbinger of news regarding the  outcome  of  the
        mercy petition, or the date of my  execution.   Such  torment  is  a
        punishment far worse than death.”

23)    In  the  year  2005,  the  petitioner-Sriharan  @  Murugan   sent   a
representation to the President of  India  reminding  the  pendency  of  his
mercy petition.  In  that  letter,  apart  from  highlighting  his  pathetic
position, he asserted that “it  has  been  5  years  since  I  had  sent  my
petition requesting Justice.  I live like a moving dead body with  the  rope
tangling in front of my eyes always  in  solitary  confinement.   I  request
justice but not mercy.”

24)   In another letter dated 17.06.2006, addressed  to  the  President,  he
asserted to the sufferings of his family members in the following words:

      “For about 8 years, I have been serving  sentence  as  death  sentence
      convict.  So,  the  sufferings  of  my  parents,  brothers,  wife  and
      daughter can not be described in words.  I  ask  God  daily  why  they
      should suffer due to me.  No body knows how many  times  the  convicts
      who are sentenced to death like me die and how many times  they  dream
      about their being hanged and no body knows about this truth.   No  one
      who loves consciousness, humanity and truth do not  fear  death.   But
      with the aim of making sacrificial  goat,  after  being  sentenced  to
      death, and justice is not done for years together and  being  harassed
      and under the circumstances, there  is  every  change  for  a  man  to
      disintegrate.  When one’s life is unreasonably wasted, no human  being
      can lead life without fear or suffering.  This confusion and  fear  is
      very bad misery.  I have  been  suffering  this  for  many  years.   I
      request you to grant reduction of punishment and render justice at the
      earliest.”

In the subsequent letter dated 10.03.2007, addressed  to  the  President  of
India, the petitioner has stated:

      “Sir, 16 years have passed since I and my wife were  imprisoned.   The
      female child born to us in jail  is  suffering  without  security  and
      education as a nomad.  During this long time, the suffering  undergone
      and undergoing now by our family members can not  be  said  in  words.
      Thinking of punishing me have punished my entire family.  So, my  life
      in jail has become a living death.”

In the same way, he also made several subsequent letters  to  the  President
highlighting his pathetic position, torture, sufferings of his family, etc.

25)   In Transferred Case (Crl.) No. 2 of 2012 (T.  Suthendraja  @  Santhan)
in Writ Petition  No.  20288  of  2011  filed  before  the  High  Court  and
Transferred Case (Crl.) No. 3 of 2012 (A.G. Perarivalan  @  Arivu)  in  Writ
Petition  No.  20289  of  2011  filed  before  the  High  Court,  both   the
petitioners/death convicts have expressed their grievance in  similar  terms
like the co-convict Murugan.  These petitioners also  sent  similar  letters
to the President highlighting their agony  in  the  prison  and  prayed  for
earlier  disposal  of  their  mercy  petitions.    They   also   highlighted
sufferings on account of solitary confinement, mental agony, etc.

26)   Having perused all the averments  specifically  averred  in  the  writ
petitions as well as the  copies  of  the  communication  addressed  to  the
Ministry of Home Affairs and to the President of India and also in  view  of
other information/materials available in  the  affidavit  filed  before  the
High Court in the year 2011, we are unable to accept the views expressed  by
learned Attorney General on this point.

Conclusion:

27)   At the outset, we once again clarify that the relief sought for  under
these kind of petitions is not per se  review  of  the  order  passed  under
Article 72/161 of the Constitution on merits but on the ground of  violation
of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to all the  citizens
including the death row convicts.

28)   The clemency procedure under Article 72/161 provides a ray of hope  to
the condemned prisoners and his family  members  for  commutation  of  death
sentence into life imprisonment and, therefore, the  executive  should  step
up and exercise its time-honored tradition of clemency power  guaranteed  in
the Constitution one-way or the other  within  a  reasonable  time.  Profuse
deliberation on the nature of power under Article 72/161  has  already  been
said in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra) and we embrace  the  same  in  the  given
case as well.

29)   We are confident that the mercy petitions filed under  Article  72/161
can be disposed of at a much faster pace than what is adopted  now,  if  the
due procedure prescribed by law is followed in verbatim. The  fact  that  no
time limit is prescribed to  the  President/Governor  for  disposal  of  the
mercy petition should compel the government to work in a  more  systematized
manner to repose  the  confidence  of  the  people  in  the  institution  of
democracy. Besides, it is definitely  not  a  pleasure  for  this  Court  to
interfere in the constitutional power vested under  Article  72/161  of  the
Constitution and, therefore, we implore upon the government  to  render  its
advice to the President within a reasonable time so that  the  President  is
in a position to arrive at a decision at the earliest.

30)   Before we conclude, we would also like to stress on one  more  aspect.
We have learnt that the Union Government,  considering  the  nature  of  the
power under Article  72/161,  set  out  certain  criteria  in  the  form  of
circular for deciding the mercy petitions. We hereby recommend that in  view
of  the  recent  jurisprudential  development  with  regard  to   delay   in
execution, another criteria may be added to the existing  yardsticks  so  as
to require consideration of the delay that may have occurred in disposal  of
a mercy petition.

31)   In the light of the above discussion and observations,  in  the  cases
of V. Sriharan @ Murugan, T. Suthendraraja @ Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan  @
Arivu, we commute their death sentence  into  imprisonment  for  life.  Life
imprisonment means end of one’s life, subject to any  remission  granted  by
the appropriate Government  under  Section  432  of  the  Code  of  Criminal
Procedure, 1973  which,  in  turn,  is  subject  to  the  procedural  checks
mentioned in the said provision and further  substantive  check  in  Section
433-A of the Code. All the writ petitions are allowed  on  the  above  terms
and the transferred cases are, accordingly, disposed of.

                                                          ……….…………………………CJI.

                                  (P. SATHASIVAM)





                              ……….……………………………J.


                                  (RANJAN GOGOI)




                               ..….….……………………………J.


                                  (SHIVA KIRTI SINGH)

NEW DELHI;
FEBRUARY 18, 2014.
-----------------------
20


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.