SC speeds up process of hearing pleas against death sentences
New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the growing demand for speedy decisions in cases involving heinous crimes, the Supreme Court on Friday framed a set of guidelines that mandate apex court benches to hear appeals challenging decisions of high courts confirming award of death sentences in six months. “In matters wherein the HC has confirmed/ upheld death penalty, and this court has granted leave, the criminal appeals will be listed for hearing not later than six months before the threejudge bench from the date of grant of leave irrespective of the fact that the appeal is ready or not,” the SC said.
The SC had admitted the appeals of the four Nirbhaya case convicts against their death sentence on March15, 2014, and finally upheld the capital punishment on May 5, 2017.
Similarly, in the case involving Sonia and Sanjeev, who had killed seven of her family members over a property dispute, the matter lingered for two years in the SC when they challenged the death sentence.
The case involving Ravi, who had raped and killed a minor girl, took nearly three years in the SC before the death penalty was commuted to imprisonment for entire life. In the case of Shabnam, who with her lover killed six members of her family, including a 10-month-old, her appeal against the HC’s decision confirming death sentence took the SC two years to decide. Keeping in mind the delay in such cases, the guidelines framed by SC said, “As soon as the special leave petition involving death penalty is filed, a communication from SC registry may be sent... for summoning of original case records within 60 days from filing of such appeal.” After the appeals are admitted for hearing by SC, the parties would be allowed 30 days to file additional document. This will prevent appellants’ counsel from seeking repeated adjournments.