SC speeds up process of hear­ing pleas against death sen­tences

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Dhanan­jay.Ma­ha­p­a­tra

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.

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