New Delhi | Repeated mercy pleas before the President and the Governor by convicts seeking remission or commutation of their sentences violate the principle of finality, the Centre today told the Supreme Court.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, hearing Centre’s plea opposing Tamil Nadu’s decision to remit the life sentences and set free seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, also posed various queries on powers of Union and the state in granting remission. Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, said, Repeated filing of mercy pleas frustrate the principle of finality.
During the day-long hearing, the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and U U Lalit, asked as to whether a convict can approach the Governor with his mercy plea even after its rejection by the President.
It sought the SG’s response on the issue, wondering whether the President’s auhority would be undermined, if the Governor allows a mercy plea subsequent to its rejection by the former. The bench, which referred to the case of Yakub Memon without naming him, asked the SG to take instruction as to whether any procedure is in place to deal with the mercy pleas or there was need to make a fresh law.
The Solicitor General, on his part, said the Governor can decide the mercy plea of death row convicts even it had been by the President provided there is a change in circumstances. He, however, added that the convict cannot be granted remission under the CrPC after constitutional authorities like the President and the Governor have rejected the mercy plea.
Do you mean to say that power once exercised stands exhausted? the bench asked, adding, why can’t the state government can take a decision? The issue is as to whether the re-consideration of mercy pleas by the executive defies the legislative and constitutional scheme, the SG said.