Monday, February 10, 2014

Debate Around Supreme Court Verdict on approving Mercy petitions

Supreme Court on January 21, 2014 gave a landmark judgement commuting the death penalty of 15 convicts to life imprisonment. While reading the verdict of Shatrughan Chauhan vs Union of India case, Supreme Court crafted the outcome innovatively thereby giving effect to the hidden basic constitutional provisions in accordance with the Article 32 (Power of Supreme Court) and Article 21 (Right to Life and Personal Liberty).

The whole debate regarding commutation of the death penalty to life sentence has centred on the premise that the brutality of the crime committed does not allows commutation but in Bachan Singh's Case, Supreme Court declared that death penalties are awarded in the rarest of rare category cases and hence all mercy petitions should be considered at par including those involving TADA(Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act) cases.

A call for putting a "MORATORIUM" on death penalty is being raised from various quarters of civil society. The United Nations resolution of December 2012 calling for a moratorium on death penalty adopted by 111 countries clearly gives us an idea about the worldwide negative attitude towards death penalty. Though India voted against the resolution, there is now a fresh call for our Parliamentarians to review this matter and again assessing all pros and cons of declaring moratorium on death penalty.

NOTE: Moratorium according to Wikipedia means a delay or suspension of an activity or a law. In a legal context, it may refer to the temporary suspension of a law to allow a legal challenge to be carried out.

Enough empirical evidence proves that the death penalty cannot be administered in a manner that does not attract some form of injustice. Therefore this Supreme Court Verdict will definitely send a clear message to the executive that the mercy petitions should be decided upon expeditiously and swiftly.

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