Death Row Convict and successive mercy petitions

Judicial Review of rejection of mercy petition.

Can an accused keep on filing successive mercy petitions and claim right to challenge it’s rejection in court with a hiatus on death warrant for 14 days in between?

The instant petition is a clear expose of the manipulation of the principle of rule of law. The petitioner was tried for which is known as “Bombay Blast Case’ and stood convicted in the year 2007. Almost 22 years have passed since 1993 when the incident occurred. We have not perceived any error in the issue of the death warrant as per our order dated 29.07.2015 passed in W.P. (Crl) No.129 of 2015. The only exception which has been enthusiastically carved out by  learned counsel is that they are entitled to get 14 days’ time to assail the rejection of the mercy petition.

When the first mercy petition was rejected on 11.04.2014, there was sufficient time available to the petitioner to make arrangement for his family members to meet him in prison and make necessary worldly arrangements. There was adequate time to prepare himself to meet his Maker and to make peace with himself. We have been apprised by learned Attorney General for India that the family was allowed to meet the petitioner whenever they desired as per the Jail Manual.

The residuary part of the submissions put forth by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner can still challenge the rejection of his mercy petition. On a first glance, the aforesaid submission may look quite attractive, but in the present case the same does not have much commendation because the rejection of the first mercy petition by the President of India could have been assailed before this Court, but it was not done. We have been apprised that the copy of the order of rejection of the mercy petition has been sent to the petitioner, but the fact remains that after the rejection of the first mercy petition, despite sufficient time, the petitioner chose not to challenge the same. We do not think that it is a case of such nature where it can be said that legal remedy was denied to the petitioner. True it is, the first mercy petition was submitted by the brother of the petitioner, but as the facts would clearly show, he was aware of the same. Learned Attorney General would contend that the petitioner, in fact, had written a letter to the concerned Superintendent of Jail pertaining to the same. Regard being had to the totality of facts and circumstances of this case, we are not inclined to accept the submission that the present mercy petition was preferred by the petitioner for the first time and, therefore, 14 days’ time should be granted so that he can do the needful as per law. In our considered opinion, to grant him further time to challenge the rejection of the second mercy petition for which we have to stay the execution of the death warrant dated 30.04.2015 would be nothing but travesty of justice.

[Source: Yakub Abdul Razak Memon vs State Of Maharashtra]

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