SHATRUGHAN CHAUHAN AND ANR VS. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS

By – Aditya Katyayan

IN SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Name of the CaseSHATRUGHAN CHAUHAN AND ANR VS.  UNION OF INDIA AND ORS.
Date of the Case21 JAN 2014
PetitionerSHATRUGHAN CHAUHAN AND ANR.
Respondent(s)UNION OF INDIA AND ORS.
Bench/JudgesHON’BLE JUSTICE P. SATHASIVAMJUSTICE RANJAN GOGOI and JUSTICE SHIVA KIRTI SINGH  
Statutes/Constitution InvolvedINDIAN CONSTITUTION OF INDIA and INDIAN PENAL CODE (IPC)
Important Sections/ ArticlesARTICLE 21, ARTICLE 32, ARTICLE 72, ARTICLE 161. SECTION 303

ABSTRACT

In the petition, the convict needs to identify the grounds whereupon he/she demands the award of exoneration. These grounds might not have any worth according to law for absolving the blamed individual from the offence, yet they may assume a significant part in the arrival of the individual by the President. The grounds, the actual wellness of the convict, or the age or a mistake submitted by the court accidentally, might be thought about at the hour of removal of the benevolence request.

INTRODUCTION

This Writ Petition was filed under Art 32 of the Constitution of India by the relatives of two demise convicts Suresh and Ramji. They were indicted for death punishment under Sec 302 of IPC. Their death punishment was affirmed by the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court. Then, at that point they recorded Mercy Petitions addressed to the Governor and President of India.

Both these Mercy Petitions were dismissed by the Governor and the President. The candidates were not educated regarding this dismissal by the specialists and there turned out to be an excess deferral of 12 long a long time in considering and choosing the Mercy Petitions.

BACKGROUND OF CASE

Mr Shatrughan Chauhan and Mr Mahinder Chauhan, relatives of death convicts – Suresh and Ramji have recorded Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 55 of 2013.

On 19.12.1997, the petitioners were indicted under Section 302 IPC for the homicide of five relatives of the main candidate’s sibling for which they were granted capital punishment. On 23.02.2000, the Allahabad High Court affirmed their conviction and capital punishment and, hence Supreme Court excused their Criminal Appeal being No. 821 of 2000, vide judgment dated 02.03.2001. On 09.03.2001 and 29.04.2001, the first and the subsequent applicants in this documented benevolence petitions were individually addressed to the Governor/President of India.

On 09.03.2001 and 29.04.2001, the first and the subsequent applicants in this documented kindness petitions were individually addressed to the Governor/President of India. On 18.04.2001, Supreme Court excused the Review Petition (Crl.) being No. 416 of 2001 which was documented on 30.03.2001 On 18.12.2001, the Governor dismissed the kindness appeal in the wake of requiring nine months. On 22.01.2002 State of U.P educated Govt. of India that the Governor shows dismissed the candidates’ leniency request. Neither the solicitor nor their family members were educated about the dismissal.

On 04.05.2001, the State of Uttar Pradesh kept in touch with the Government Advocate, District Varanasi requesting a copy of the trial court judgment, On 04.09.2001, the District Magistrate, Varanasi informed that it is beyond the realm of imagination to expect to get a copy of the trial court judgment as every one of the papers are lying in the Supreme Court. Also, there were over the top postponement in sending the decisions of the trial court to the Govt. of India, and a year delay in sending data about the situation with candidates’ kindness requests to the State of U.P. There was the postponement of almost three years in outfitting data about the forthcoming leniency petitions when the equivalent was looked for by Prison specialists of the U.P prison.

FACTS

On 08.02.2013, the President dismissed the kindness petitions. The Petitioners had not gotten any composed correspondence about this till the date and came to think about it just through news reports.

Thusly there is an all-out postponement of 12 years and 2 months since documenting of benevolence applicants till illuminating the solicitors about the dismissal by the President.

Henceforth this writ request was documented with a supplication to give a writ of presentation pronouncing that execution of sentence of death as per the dismissal of the benevolence petitions by the President is unlawful and to save capital punishment forced upon them by driving something very similar to detainment forever.

ISSUES RAISED

1. Whether the delay in execution would amount to a violation of the right to life under Art 21.

2. Whether the delay in execution alone would be sufficient ground for commutation of a death sentence.

ARGUMENTS BY PETITIONER

  • Exercise of the constitutional power vested in the executive under Art 72/161 has violated the fundamental rights of the petitioners.
  • Impugned executive orders against the petitioners were passed without considering the supervening events (delay) which are crucial for deciding the same.
  • An inordinate delay in execution of death sentence would infringe the right to life under Art 21 and would entitle the convict to approach Court under Art 32 of the Constitution.
  • Human life is sacred and every effort should be made to protect it.
  • In a petition filed under Art 32 even without Presidential Order, if there is unexplained delay in execution of death sentence the grievance of the convict can be considered by the Court.

ARGUMENTS BY RESPONDENTS

  • The alleged delay in furnishing the relevant documents for consideration of the Mercy Petition by the President happened because these details are gathered from the State/Prison authorities and takes a lot of time and involves protracted correspondence with the prison authorities and State Government.
  • These documents are then extensively examined and pros and cons are weighed to arrive at a decision and this process would take time.
  • Time taken in examination of mercy petitions may depend upon the nature of the case, the scope of inquiry to be made and the number of mercy petitions submitted on behalf of the accused. And there cannot be a specific time limit for examination of mercy petitions.
  • Art 72 envisages no time limit for disposal of Mercy Petition and therefore no such time limit can be prescribed.
  • The power under Art 72 is discretionary and cannot be taken away, altered, modified or interfered with by any statutory provision or authority.
  • Delay in itself does not entail a person under sentence of death to request for commutation. (D Shetty v. International Airport Authority)
  • Death penalty is imposed on a person found guilty of offence of heinous nature after following the due procedure which is subject to appeal and review and therefore delay in execution must not be a ground for commutation of sentence of such a heinous crime.
  • Moreover the commutation of death sentence if made solely on the basis of delay would be against the victim’s interest.

RELATED PROVISIONS

  • Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949

21. Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law

Article 161 in The Constitution Of India 1949

161. Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends

  • Article 32 in The Constitution Of India 1949

Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part

(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed

(2) The Supreme Court shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part

(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause ( 1 ) and ( 2 ), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause ( 2 )

(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.

  • Article 72 in The Constitution Of India 1949

Power of President to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases

(1) The President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence

(a) in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial;

(b) in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;

(c) in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death

(2) Noting in sub-clause (a) of Clause ( 1 ) shall affect the power to suspend, remit or commute a sentence of death exercisable by the Governor of a State under any law for the time being in force.

  • Article 161 in The Constitution Of India 1949

161. Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends

  • Section 303 in The Indian Penal Code

Punishment for murder by life-convict.—Whoever, being under sentence of 1[imprisonment for life], commits murder, shall be punished with death.

JUDGMENT

The Court held that, without legitimate, conceivable and satisfactory purposes behind the postponement, the deferral of twelve years in considering the kindness request is a significant ground for the substitution of capital punishment into life detainment.

The Court was of the pertinent view that excessive, over the top and outlandish deferral in the execution of capital punishment does unquestionably credit to the torment which in reality is an infringement of Article 21 and along these lines involves as the ground for recompense of the sentence. Article 21 can be appropriately depicted as the “substance of crucial rights” which involves that nobody ought to be denied of his/her life or individual freedom besides as indicated by a technique set up by law. To any humanized society, there can be no characteristics more significant than the life and individual freedom of its individuals. As cited by P. Sathasivam, CJI, “Our Constitution is profoundly esteemed for its explanation. One such adroit drafting is Article 21 of the Constitution which proposes that each individual has the inborn right to life and orders that no individual will be denied of his life or individual freedom besides as per the methodology set up by law.”

The twin ascribes of right to life and individual freedom partake in a central command over any remaining credits of the political and social request. Article 21 of the Constitution doesn’t end with the proclamation of the sentence yet reaches out to the phase of execution of that sentence, as effectively stated, delayed postponement in the execution of sentence of death has a dehumanizing impact on the blamed. Postponement brought about by conditions past the detainees’ control orders recompense of capital punishment as done by the court for this situation. The court appropriately drove capital punishment to life detainment since defer makes physical and mental desolation the convict which prompts torment; in this way, it is an unmistakable infringement of Article 21. In facilitation to that, it is legitimate to feature that the Supreme Court, which is the sole defender of the qualities revered in the Indian Constitution, in addition to the fact that it widened the extent of Article 21 concerning the convicts’ privileges yet additionally helped regarding the worldwide standards as set by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a signatory. Since our homegrown law is practically on the very balance as that of global law, the Court considered “craziness” as a happening situation and obviously commented that to execute a crazy individual who isn’t in a situation to comprehend the idea of his deeds and who can’t guard himself would be a sheer infringement of his privileges.

It is in fact qualified to consider the way that the essential fundamental of our country’s criminal equity framework is to try and protect certain privileges of a been sentenced for the individual an offence, Article 21 being the most significant. Executing an individual who has lost his mental stability isn’t just against the idea of humankind however is in logical inconsistency to the tradition that must be adhered to also. By driving capital punishment of two demise convicts into life detainment, thinking about their ongoing insane sickness the Court, not exclusively adjusted with the global and homegrown lawful norms yet in addition set up a genuine model for any remaining nations that the execution of the sentence will likewise agree with the established command.

It might likewise be noticed that in the current case, the Supreme Court, by practising restricted legal survey went about as a standard for understanding the government design of our Constitution. Driving capital punishment into life detainment by holding excessive and absurd postponement as a fundamental moderating component, this Court in a way sets out an arrangement of checks and equilibrium, subsequently showing that the Executive, as well, will be considered responsible for their activities.

The way that the Shatrughan Chauhan case has set down rules to secure the right to life and individual freedom of death-row detainees, as cherished under Article 21 of the Constitution is likewise excellent. These rules have stopped the aberrations in executing the all-around existing laws for protecting the interest of the death row convicts.

CONCLUSION

However the substitution of capital punishment of the candidates is a well-suited choice since they have experienced a deferral of 12 long years, this judgment can start a terrible trend for future cases. The replacement of sentence just dependent on postpone will make a convoluted legitimate circumstance.

The facts really confirm that the force under Art 72/161 is the optional force of the President and Governor and the equivalent can’t be managed by any legal force or authority. Be that as it may, to leave the equivalent uncontrolled may lead to issues. Subsequently, by leaving the force obvious we can make it problematic how these forces are worked out. The Judiciary can positively demand the Ministry to keep its own principles which can lessen to an enormous expansion the postponement caused.

This will assist us with guaranteeing that the demise convicts profit every one of their privileges till the last moment of execution.