New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its “convict centric” guidelines in death sentence cases to “victim centric” as it sought shorter, tighter deadlines for hanging convicts after their death warrant has been issued.
Arguing that the current rules are skewed towards the convicts and allowed them to “play with the law and delay execution,” the Centre said in its petition that once a death warrant has been issued, the death row convicts should have seven days’ time to file mercy petitions to the President. And once that is rejected, the convict should be executed within seven days, and not 14 days.
The Centre’s petition comes amid anger over the delay in the Nirbhaya convicts’ hanging.
Seeking shortening of period between the rejection of the mercy petition and the execution of death sentence, the Centre has sought the modification of top court’s January 21, 2014, guidelines which said that there would be a gap of minimum 14 days between the rejection of the mercy petition by the President and the execution of death sentence.
The Centre’s application said that all the guidelines are “accused centric” and do not take into account the “irreparable mental trauma, agony, upheaval and derangement of the victims and their family members, the collective conscience of the nation and the deterrent effect which the capital punishment intends to make.”
It added that the need of the hour is to lay down guidelines in the interest of the victims instead of keeping the rights of the convicts in mind.
The application also says those convicted of heinous crimes take shelter of Article 21 (right to life) and take the “judicial process for a ride.”
Of the 11 guidelines issued by the top court on January 21, 2014, one said that there would be a minimum of 14-days’ notice for execution.
The guideline sought to be modified says, “It is necessary that a minimum period of 14 days be stipulated between the receipt of communication of the rejection of the mercy petition and the scheduled date of execution for the following reasons: It allows the prisoner to prepare himself mentally for execution, to make his peace with god, prepare his will and settle other earthly affairs and have a last and final meeting with his family members.”