The government is likely to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s recent judgment commuting death sentence of 15 convicts to life imprisonment on the ground the President had delayed in deciding their mercy petitions.
In a letter written to a senior government law officer, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said the review petition should urge the point that there has to be a distinction between the cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and those lodged under more stringent laws such as terror related.
It intends to toe the similar line of argument as taken by an SC bench that dismissed Khalistan terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s plea to commute his death sentence to life. In April last year a bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi (since retired) found no merit in Bhullar’s plea as he was charged under now lapsed stringent anti-terror law TADA. This verdict has, however, been overruled by a January 21 judgement by a larger bench headed by Chief Justice (CJI) P Sathasivam.
Additional solicitor general Siddhartha Luthra on Wednesday admitted the government was considering making the move after senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, counsel for convicts facing death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, opposed the government’s request to adjourn the hearing fixed for Thursday.
Jethmalani claimed the government was attempting to buy time. Luthra, however, said he wanted an adjournment as the Attorney General GE Vahanvati was in personal difficulty.