SC Guidelines to Speed Up Death Penalties

The Supreme Court issues guidelines in cases of criminal appeals in death penalties

The Supreme Court issued Office Order stating guidelines for listing criminal appeals in the cases where death penalty has been awarded in the wake of multiple litigation being filed by convicts in Nirbhaya Case in various courts.

The Order states that:

  • Where death penalty has been awarded and after the grant of leave by the Supreme Court, the appeal shall not be listed later than six months, irrespective of the fact that appeal is ready or not.
  • Right after filing an SLP involving death penalty, a notice has to be sent from the Registry to the court appealed from, to obtain certificate of service along with original record within a period of thirty days from the receipt of such intimation or further within such period as may be directed by the Court. The record shall be sent along with the translated copy of the documents which may be in vernacular language.
  • After the leave is granted by the Supreme Court, the Registry may insist for filing of additional documents by the parties within a period of thirty days after the receipt of intimation in this regard.
  • In the event records of additional documents have not been received/filed, the matter may be listed before the judge in chambers before the Registrar court as per the existing practice.

In Nirbhaya case the execution of death penalty was stayed "till further orders".

The four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) delayed the execution by availing different legal remedies, triggering public reaction.

May 5, 2018: SC upholds death penalty to four convicts.

Nov 8: Mukesh, one of the four death row convicts in the case, moves SC seeking review of its verdict upholding the capital punishment awarded to him.

Dec 15: Convicts Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta move SC for review of its verdict.

Jul 9: SC dismisses review pleas of three convicts.

Dec 10, 2019: Akshay moves plea in SC seeking review of his death penalty.

Dec 13: Victim’s mother moves SC opposing review plea of convict

Dec 18: SC dismisses Akshay’s review plea.

Jan 7: Delhi court orders 4 convicts to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

Jan 14: SC rejects curative petition of Vinay and Mukesh Kumar.

Jan 17: Mukesh files mercy petition before President

President Ram NathKovind rejects mercy plea of Mukesh.

Jan 25: Mukesh moves SC against rejection of mercy plea.

Jan 29: Convict Akshya Kumar approaches SC with curative petition, SC rejects plea of Mukesh challenging rejection of his mercy plea.

Jan 30: SC dismisses curative plea of Akshay Kumar Singh.

Jan 31: SC dismisses plea filed by Pawan seeking review of its order rejecting his juvenility claim.

Delhi court again postpones execution of the black warrants till further order.

Feb 1: Centre moves HC against the trial court order.

Feb 5: HC dismisses Centre plea against trial court order; says all 4 convicts have to be hanged together. It directs the convicts to pursue all legal remedies within a week, failing which the authorities ordered to take action in accordance with law.

What crimes does India punish with the death sentence?

Capital punishment, in India is awarded for:

  • Murder
  • Gang robbery with murder
  • Abetting the suicide of a child or insane person
  • Waging war against the government
  • Abetting mutiny by a member of the armed forces

Most death sentences were imposed for murders, and murders involving sexual violence, at 45 and 58 respectively in 2018.

Research published by National Law University, Delhion death row convicts stated that“since 2000 had found that of the 1,617 prisoners sentenced to death by trial courts in India, capital punishment was confirmed in only seventy-one cases.”

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