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India: Government to contest recent Supreme Court verdict on death penalty cases

January 30, 2014 | By

New Delhi, India (January 30, 2014): As per certain media reports the Government of India (GOI) is likely to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s recent judgment commuting death sentence of 15 convicts to life imprisonment on the ground the President had delayed in deciding their mercy petitions.

In a letter written to a senior government law officer, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said the review petition should urge the point that there has to be a distinction between the cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and those lodged under more stringent laws such as terror related.

According to Hindustan Times (HT) the Government of India intends to toe the similar line of argument as taken by a division bench of Supreme Court of India (SCI) that dismissed Sikh political prisoner Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea to commute his death sentence to life.

On April 12, 2013 a bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi (since retired) had taken a position that those convicted under TADA Act could not invoke delay in execution as a ground for commutation of death sentence. This position has, however, been declared as per incuriam by a January 21 judgement by a larger bench headed by Chief Justice (CJI) P Sathasivam.

Additional solicitor general Siddhartha Luthra on Wednesday (January 29) admitted the government was considering making the move after senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, counsel for convicts facing death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, opposed the government’s request to adjourn the hearing fixed for Thursday.

Advocate Ram Jethmalani claimed the government was attempting to buy time. Luthra, however, said he wanted an adjournment as the Attorney General GE Vahanvati was in personal difficulty.

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