The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the Centre’s plea seeking “victim-centric” guidelines in cases where the convicts have been given the death penalty, reported PTI. In its plea filed on January 22, the Centre had said the current rules were skewed in favour of the convicts, as they allowed them to “play with the law and delay execution”.
The government had urged the Supreme Court to set a seven-day deadline for death-row convicts to file mercy pleas before the president. The Centre had also sought directions for death warrants to be issued within seven days after a mercy petition is rejected, and to hang the convict within seven days after that. Currently, the minimum time between a mercy plea being rejected and a convict’s execution is 14 days. The government also urged the top court to declare that once a review petition against death penalty is dismissed, the convicts can file a curative petition only within a stipulated time period.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, on Friday sought response from various stakeholders on whose petition the Supreme Court had laid down guidelines relating to the execution of death-row convicts. It also issued notice to the respondents who were named in the Shatrughan Chauhan case in 2014. However, the bench said the conviction and death sentence connected with the Shatrughan Chauhan case would not be altered while dealing with the Centre’s plea.
The Centre’s application had sought clarifications and modifications in a Supreme Court order from 2014, in which the court had said even death-row convicts have certain inalienable rights.
The petition was filed amid a continuing delay in the execution of four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case. The convicts had been first given the death sentence by a trial court in 2013. The punishment was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later and by the Supreme Court in May 2017.
However, it took until earlier this month for a court to issue death warrants – but even that had to be postponed because the convicts continued to use the legal options available.
The executions are now scheduled for 6 am on February 1. However, multiple petitions have been filed again by the four death-row convicts in their attempts to stall their execution.