Model Question and Answers for APSC | Instances of the President's delay in commuting death sentences has come under public debate as denial of justice. Should there be a time limit specified for the President to accept/reject such petitions? Analyse.
Instances of the President's delay in commuting death sentences has come under public debate as denial of justice. Should there be a time limit specified for the President to accept/reject such petitions? Analyse.
Ans: A convict sentenced to death has a constitutional right to petition the President for relief against his sentence, and the consideration of his petition is not an act of grace or mercy by the President but a necessary relief provided by the Constitution
- In the case of Shatrughan Chauhan & Anr v. Union of India, a three- judge bench of Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment dated 21st January 2014 on death penalty holding that an excessive delay in carrying out the death sentence was an essential mitigating factor in a plea for commutation.
- The court held that inordinate delay in deciding a petition of a convict sentenced to death by the President can be torture and inhumane punishment to the convict.
- The Court held that, in the absence of proper, plausible, and acceptable reasons for the delay, the delay of twelve years in considering the mercy The petition is relevant grounds for the commutation of the death sentence into life imprisonment.
- In such circumstances, if the convict approaches the Court, the Court will hold that his fundamental right to protection of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution is violated and the Court will commute his sentence to life imprisonment.
Need for time limit on commutation:
- Victim's psychological state will typically be negatively impacted by their lengthy prison sentence, which could result in There wouldn't be any additional psychological effects on the guilty if the problem was resolved more quickly.
- Regardless of one's actions, every person has certain basic human rights that must be Long periods of time spent in unfavourable living circumstances constitute this violation. Such factors must be taken into account before postponing judgement.
- It is rightly quoted by Brent Weeks, “Delayed justice is as bad as injustice”. A victim, whether himself or his family, too shall be treated with equal fairness, dignity and respect and their rights should be equally respected.
- Also as it is rightly quoted by Eleanor Roosevelt “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both”, so the need is for the judiciary to be able to strike a balance between both accused’s rights as well as the victim’s rights which can be done by following the path of guidelines which are enshrined in this case to deal with subsequent cases relating to executive delay and the commutation of death sentence in order to be able to render justice in real sense.