SC laid down guidelines for dealing with mercy pleas

Supreme Court laid down 12 guidelines for authorities in dealing with death-row prisoners on 22 January 2014.

Jan 23, 2014 17:10 IST
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Supreme Court laid down 12 guidelines for authorities in dealing with death-row prisoners on 22 January 2014. Supreme Court said that the solitary confinement of prisoners is unconstitutional.

image Three judges bench headed by Chief Justice P.Sathasivam formulated the guidelines for the conduct on how death row inmates should be treated.

As currently there is no symmetry between the manuals of state and central jail authorities.

Guidelines are as follows:

•    The procedure should be followed while placing the mercy plea before the President. All the required documents and records should be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in one stroke instead of piece-meal basis.

•    Once MHA received all the details, it should convey its recommendations to the President within a reasonable and rational time.

•    MHA should send periodical reminders if there is no response from the office of the President.

•    If there is a rejection of mercy plea by the President or the Governor, the same should be communicated in writing to the prisoners and to their family.

•    The death convicts are entitled "to receive a copy of the rejection of the mercy petition by the President and the Governor.

•    There must be a gap of 14 days between receipt of communication of rejection of mercy petition and execution date. This would allow the death convict to prepare himself mentally for the execution.

•    Without sufficient notice of the scheduled date of execution, the right of prisoners to avail of judicial remedies will be thwarted.

•    There should be a provision of final meeting between condemned prisoners and their family as such a procedure is intrinsic to humanity and justice, and should be followed by all prison authorities.

•    There should be regular mental health evaluation of all death row convicts and appropriate medical care should be given to those in need.

•    After the issuance of execution warrant, the prison superintendent should satisfy himself on the basis of medical reports by government doctors and psychiatrists that the prisoner is in a fit physical and mental condition to be executed.

•    It is necessary that copies of relevant documents should be furnished to the prisoner within a week by prison authorities to assist in making mercy petition.

•    The apex court also made post-mortem of death convicts after their hanging obligatory.

Mercy Petition

As per the constitution of India, There is a provision under Article- 72, which states that president of India has a power to grant pardon to any person convicted of any offence.

The President is guided and advised by the home minister and the council of ministers in his decision. There is no timeframe in which the President has to make the decision which is subject to judicial review.

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