The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice in a plea seeking directions to the Government for framing guidelines on timely disposal of Mercy Petitions.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & Hrishikesh Roy sought response from the Ministry of home Affairs and granted 4 weeks time to file reply.
CJI: "Format is not necessary. Only thing we felt important was time limit and even for that we can't direct the President. Only Thing we may consider is, directing the MHA (Ministry of Home Affair) on Time Limit for placing Before president"
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the Respondent(s) and sought time to file reply which was granted by the bench.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by Advocate Kamal Gupta on behalf of Shiv Kumar Tripathi seeking issuance of appropriate directions for framing specific procedure, rules and guidelines for disposing the mercy petitions within a time bound period.
The Plea contended,
"Rights guaranteed under Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution of India are being violated of the convicts as well as the victims due to lack of framing of proper procedure, rules and guidelines in disposal of the mercy petitions of the convicts. Since there is no specified written procedure, rules and guidelines for disposing off the mercy petitions within a time bound manner, the same is resulting in arbitrariness and discrimination in disposal of the mercy petitions.... also leads to undue delay in disposal"
Apropos this, the petitioner contended that it is pertinent that comprehensive guidelines for disposing the mercy petitions within a time bound period are immediately framed and implemented.
The petitioner averred that since the power bestowed on the President for grant of pardon or mercy is an "extraordinary power", it must be exercised with great care and caution and that "principles of natural justice be exercised uniformly in each and every case"
Further to this, petitioner highlighted that the "apprehension of misuse and abuse of power" effects administration of justice. In light of this, petitioner drew a corollary between the International jurisdictions of USA & England which he contends have "already framed the rules for purpose of filing a mercy petitions" .
Petitioner also emphasised that there is no currently no written procedure for dealing with mercy petitions in practice but in practice, he or his relative may submit a mercy petition in writing to the President, which is then scrutinised by the MHA. Following this, the petition is disposed off under Article 72 of the Constitution of India and the State/UT gives their opinion regarding the pardoning. For the submission of this opinion, the petitioner adds that there is has not specified time period.
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