Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir has said that the family of Afzal Guru — the 2001 Parliament attack convict who was executed on February 9 — should have been informed about his hanging before it took place.
The CJI’s comments came during a joint press conference with law minister Ashwani Kumar on Sunday. In response to a query about what the procedure for informing the families of death row convicts should be — and whether it was followed in Guru’s case — he said: “The procedure has been in the past that they should be informed and, as far as I know, steps were taken to inform them (Guru’s family).” At the same time, he added he was not in favour of raking up past issues.
The Union home ministry had sent a letter to Guru’s family in Sopore in Kashmir via speed post on February 8, but it reached only on February 11, two days after the hanging.
The CJI also cautioned against delays in deciding on the mercy petitions of death row convicts but steered clear of commenting on any particular case, saying some of them are pending in the Supreme Court.
He also defended the system of appointing Supreme Court and high court judges by a panel of top judges called the collegium. With the government set to move a Constitution amendment bill to do away with the collegium, the CJI said: “Great deal of deliberations go into every name which is considered for appointment as a judge.”