The Supreme Court today quashed a death warrant issued by a trial court, after noticing that the period for filing special leave petition against the High Court's confirmation of death penalty was not yet over.
This order of the bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi came in a writ petition filed by 30 year old Kattavelai Devakar, whose death sentence for rape and double murders was confirmed by Madras High Court on March 13, 2019 . The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court found him guilty of raping of a college girl and murdering her and her lover near Suruli hills in Theni district in 2011.
Within two weeks of confirmation by HC, i.e on March 27, the Sessions Judge Theni issued warrant for execution of death sentence. As per reports, he was ordered to be hanged on April 22.
In this backdrop, a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India was filed in the Supreme Court, contending that the warrant was issued before the convict exhausted his legal remedies.
When the matter was taken up today, the counsel for the petitioner informed that the death warrant was later recalled by the trial Court. Nevertheless, the SC proceeded to quash the warrant, stating as follows
"Be that as it may, as the period for filing of a special leave petition/an appeal against the order of conviction and sentence is yet to be over, we are of the view that the warrant for execution of death sentence dated 27.03.2019 is contrary to the law laid down by this Court in Shabnam v Union of India(2015) 6 SCC 702. Accordingly we deem it proper, without issuing any notice, to set aside the said warrant of execution of death sentence and allow this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution".