Citizens' Issues
Delay in deciding mercy plea ground for commutation of death penalty

Giving life term to 15 death row inmates, including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan, the Supreme Court also ruled that a death convict suffering from mental insanity and schizophrenia cannot be hanged

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that death sentence of a condemned prisoner can be commuted to life imprisonment on the ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding the mercy plea.

 

Giving life term to 15 death row inmates, including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan, the apex court also ruled that a death convict suffering from mental insanity and schizophrenia cannot be hanged.

 

It overruled its own verdict in Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s case in which it had held that delay in deciding mercy plea cannot be a ground for commutation of death sentence.

 

Death sentence in such cases can be commuted to life imprisonment on the ground of their mental illness, it said.

 

Today’s judgement may have implications in various cases, including the petitions filed by three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who have challenged the President’s rejection of their mercy plea less than three years ago.

 

Framing guidelines on disposal of mercy petitions and execution of death sentence, a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam ruled that convicts given death sentence must be informed about the rejection of their mercy pleas and should be given a chance to meet their family members before they are executed.

 

It also held that solitary confinement of a prisoner, including death row convict, is unconstitutional and it should not be allowed in the prisons.

 

The bench gave its verdict on a batch of petitions filed by 15 inmates on death row seeking direction from Supreme Court for commutation of their sentence to life term on the grounds of delay in deciding mercy plea and mental illness.

 

The bench also said that execution of death sentence should be carried out within 14 days after rejection of the mercy plea.

 

The apex court also said that the prison authorities must provide legal aid to prisoners facing death sentence so that they can approach courts for commutation of their sentence on the ground of their illness and delay in deciding mercy plea by the Government.

 

Pronouncing its judgement on 13 petitions filed by the 15 convicts whose execution of sentence had been stayed by the apex court, the three-judge bench clarified that its directions be implemented in all cases whether a person has been convicted under IPC or the anti-terror law.

 

The issue of communication of rejection of mercy plea assumes importance in view of the controversy surrounding the execution of Parliament attack case convict Mohd Afzal as there was allegation that his family members were not properly communicated about the dismissal of his plea and subsequent hanging.

 

Earlier, a two-judge bench in April last year had held that long delay in disposing of mercy pleas by the President or the Governor of persons convicted under anti-terror laws or similar statutes cannot be a ground for commutation of death sentence.

 

The 12 April 2013 ruling was pronounced while rejecting Bhullar’s plea for commutation of sentence on ground of delay in deciding his mercy plea. At that time, there were over 20 convicts facing execution.

 

Later on, an apex court bench had granted relief to a condemned prisoner M N Das who had sought conversion of his death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding his mercy petition.

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COMMENTS

Vaibhav Dhoka

3 years ago

In criminal justice very much weight is thrown behind well fair of accused,no place we find remote guilt acknowledgement by accused.There is no relief for victims.The best is scrap DEATH PENALTY.Because hanging within 14 days of rejection of mercy plea is nearly impossible in present day situation in India as it takes months to move files.There is need for overhaul of criminal justice system which is need of hour.

NIA to soon file charge sheet against two Italian marines

The NIA had completed its probe after questioning four Italian marines, who were witness to the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast

The National Investigation Agency (NIA)will file a charge sheet against two Italian marines accused of killing two Kerala fishermen, after getting sanction to prosecute them under a law which provides only the death penalty.

 

However, the charge sheet is unlikely to be filed before 3rd February by when the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it will resolve all disputes with the Italian government arising out of invoking the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA) against the two marines.

 

The Home Ministry had given sanction to the NIA to prosecute the marines under the SUA last week.

 

Accused Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were on board Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ and now lodged in the Italian Embassy premises, allegedly shot dead the two fishermen off the Kerala coast on 15 February 2012.

 

The NIA completed its probe after questioning four Italian marines, who were witness to the incident, through video conferencing after their refusal to come to India.

 

The Supreme Court had shifted the case to Delhi, saying the Kerala Police had no jurisdiction over it and backed the union government’s decision to hand over the case to NIA.

 

The Italian government has already challenged before the Supreme Court invoking of the anti-terrorism law SUA, saying it is against the order of the apex court which allowed proceedings only under the Maritime Zone Act, Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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Kotak Mahindra Bank Q3 net profit down 6% on higher provisioning

Kotak Mahindra Bank reported a net profit of Rs340 crore in its December quarter on a 64% increase in provisioning

Kotak Mahindra Bank, India’s fourth largest private sector bank on Tuesday reported a decrease in its third quarter net profit on higher provisions made by the lender for advances and investments.
 

For the quarter to end-December, Kotak Mahindra Bank said its net profit declined 6% at Rs340 crore from Rs362 crore, while its total revenues, including net interest income (NII), increased 5% to Rs2,192 crore from Rs2,095 crore, same period a year ago.
 

Kotak Mahindra Bank said it made total provisions of Rs69.74 crore during the third quarter, an increase by 64% compared with Rs42.36 crore a year ago period. From the total provision, Rs25.44 crore was provisioned towards advances, Rs43.43 crore towards investments and remaining Rs0.87 crore were provisioned for other items.
 

During the December quarter, the lender recorded 11% growth in its NII to Rs913 crore from Rs823 crore, a year ago period. The bank’s net interest margin (NIM) stood at 4.8%, compared to 4.5%, a year ago.
 

Kotak Mahindra Bank said it disbursed loans worth Rs53,149 crore, up by 6%, when compared with Rs50,245 crore a year ago period. The lender, however said, said that it is cautiously slowing down  construction equipment and commercial vehicle (CECV) lending.
 

During the quarter, Kotak Mahindra Bank’s total deposits grew 22% to Rs16,261 crore from Rs13,359 crore, same period last year. The deposit growth was led by savings deposits which grew 38% to Rs9,106 crore from Rs6,616 crore a year ago period. The bank’s current and savings account (CASA) ratio stood at 30%, compared with 25.9% a year ago period.
 

Kotak Mahindra Bank’s capital adequacy ratio (as per Tier 1) stood at 17.9% improved by 3.7% during December 2013 quarter than 14.2% a year ago period and net non performing assets (NNPA) stood at 1.10% from 0.64%, a marginal increase of 0.46% from a year ago period.
 

Kotak Mahindra Bank, as on 31 December 2013 had 533 branches across 315 locations and 1,036 ATMs.
 

Kotak Mahindra Bank closed Tuesday 3.10% down at Rs705.55 on the BSE, while the Sensex ended the day marginally higher at 21,256.

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