The Supreme Court's four Judges bench comprising the Chief Justice, J.S.Khehar, and justices Dipak Misra, J.Chelameswar, and Ranjan Gogoi, on Friday dismissed the Central Government's last legal remedy of Curative Petition in seeking the reversal of the Court's landmark judgment in Shatrughan Chauan v Union of India.
The judgment, delivered by a three-Judge bench in January 2014, secured the commutation of as many as 15 death row convicts at one go, and is a source of hope for several convicts, whose mercy petitions are still languishing for decisions in the hands of the Governor, and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The judgment not only considered the ground of delay in disposal of mercy petitions, but other supervening factors like mental illness during the prolonged incarceration, as grounds for commuting the death sentence of a convict.
The President, Pranab Mukherjee, at present has no pending mercy petitions with him, having commuted death sentences of four convicts in Bara Massacre case on January 1 this year. The President reportedly cited Shatrughan Chauhan judgment, while setting aside the MHA recommendation to reject the mercy petitions of these four convicts.
Curiously, the Curative Petition was filed by the Centre only in January this year, giving rise to doubt whether the Centre, was irked by the President's decision to reject its recommendation, while deciding the mercy petitions on the basis of this judgment.