The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down Andhra Pradesh Congress leader G Venkat Reddy’s plea to suspend his sentence following quashing of the then Governor Sushil Kumar Shinde’s remission order and asked him to surrender before the police.
"Once we have set aside the governor's order, you have to surrender," a Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice SH Kapadia said after senior counsel Altaf Ahmed mentioned the matter for the court’s consideration.
Ahmed wanted the court to suspend Reddy’s sentence till the governor decided the petition filed by the convict’s MLA wife seeking remission of the sentence of 10-year imprisonment in connection with the killing of a Telugu Desam Party activist in 1995.
In fact while quashing the governor’s order, the apex court had on October 11 asked the governor to decide the remission plea afresh after taking into consideration the relevant material.
The bench, however, refused to grant him time to surrender or fix a timeframe for the governor to decide the issue of remission.
The trial court, which convicted Reddy of murder, awarded him life imprisonment in the case and the Andhra Pradesh High Court upheld the order. However, the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to ten-year imprisonment after altering his conviction under section 302 IPC (murder) to 304 part-I of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
The then Governor Shinde granted him remission of the sentence on the ground that he was a good Congress worker and he was enlarged after spending only three years in prison. The deceased family challenged it in the apex court, which set aside the remission order.
The court held that the power to pardon has to be exercised by the president or governors in accordance with the rule of law, which cannot be compromised on considerations of political expediency, religion or caste.