Having restored the death penalty of a murder convict without giving him a hearing, the Supreme Court has corrected its mistake of violating the principles of natural justice.
It has admitted a review petition of one Ramdeo Chauhan, who had sought a re-evaluation of a court order that had set aside Assam governor’s decision to commute death penalty awarded to him to life imprisonment.
A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat — who has since retired — had in May set aside the January 2002 order of the governor on a petition filed by the family members of the deceased but without hearing Chauhan, who had killed four members of a family.
On May 8, a two-judge bench overlooked the fact that Chauhan, the main person to be adversely affected by its decision, was not present in the court.
“In our considered view on this ground, involving violation of the principles of natural justice, alone this review petition qualifies for hearing,” a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said.
The bench also issued notices to the victims’ family members and the National Human Rights Commission, which had recommended the governor to commute the death sentence after the SC confirmed it.
Taking exception to the rights panel viewing the decision as a rights violation, Justice Pasayat had said the verdict upholding the death penalty given to a murder convict cannot amount to violation of human rights.
The rights panel had taken up the matter on a complaint purportedly made by an academic, Prof Ved Kumari. But the professor later denied that she was the complainant and told the apex court that the rights panel took up the issue suo motu.