Concerned over the delay in disposal of mercy petitions by the President’s office, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will peruse through all such files pending for over two years.
A bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice SJ Mukopadhaya directed the Center to furnish details of mercy pleas.
The files may include that of Parliament attack death convict Afzal Guru that is still awaiting President’s final nod.
The court also noted it may issue suo motu notice if it did not find any tangible ground for the delay in deciding mercy petitions.
It further asked jurist Ram Jethmalani, assisting the bench as amicus curiae whether “the President should objectively apply mind while deciding mercy petitions.” It felt the state’s role was advisory in nature and that the President is the sole authority to take a final verdict on clemency pleas.
As the court was hearing death row convict Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea to set aside his death sentence on the ground of inordinate delay taken to decide his mercy plea, the bench sought to know from Jethmalani whether any research has been undertaken to ascertain the mindset of an inmate awaiting his execution.
“Has any research being undertaken on what is the state of mind of a person who has been waiting for years together for execution of death sentence. What is the state of mind,” it asked.
Appearing for Bhullar, senior counsel KTS Tulsi told the court that between 1997 and 2011, the President has disposed off 32 mercy petitions, 13 of which were done after a 10-year wait. He submitted 14 other cases were disposed off after a delay ranging between four and 10 years, while the remaining cases were disposed off between one-four years.