New Delhi, February 22. The Supreme Court today set a stiff three-day deadline for the states to provide details of the mercy petitions of death row convicts pending with Governors for a decision on whether they should be hanged or kept behind bars for life.
A Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya passed the order while hearing the plea of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, sentenced to death for the 1993 bomb attack on the then Youth Congress president MS Bitta, for commuting his sentence in view of the over 10 years of delay in rejecting his mercy plea.
The Bench had sought details of the mercy petitions to ascertain the reasons for the delay and decide whether the affected convicts were entitled to commutation in view of the years spent in jail, agonizingly waiting for a decision on their mercy pleas.
Earlier, the apex court had expressed its displeasure over the fact that some of the death row convicts were able to get political or community support for their pleas, while others suffered in silence.
Listing Bhullar’s case for next hearing on March 1, the Bench clarified that the Home Secretaries of the states were responsible for providing the details.
The Bench is simultaneously hearing a case relating to three convicts – Santhan, Murugan and Arivu – sentenced to death for their involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.