Home Ministry Approaches Supreme Court For Modification Of Death Penalty Guidelines

General News

The MHA told the Supreme Court today that the country is facing a menace of certain offences like rape which are punishable with a death sentence.

Written By Nalini Sharma | Mumbai | Updated On:

Just weeks before the scheduled hanging of the four convicts in the infamous 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, the Ministry of Home Affairs in a big move has filed a plea before the Supreme Court seeking modification of the Court’s 2004 guidelines on the death penalty, asking them to be made more "victim-centric”.

The MHA told the Supreme Court today that the country is facing a menace of certain offences like rape which are punishable with a death sentence.“Rape is not only a criminal offence, but the most horrific and unpardonable offence in any civilised society. It is not only an offence against an individual, but an offence against humanity” the MHA has stated in its plea. The past few weeks have seen several petitions being filed and dismissed by the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case before various courts in the country. In light of these events, the MHA’s plea before the Supreme Court can be the trigger that was needed to fast track the proceedings towards the execution of the death sentence.

The MHA in its application has said that "while taking care of the rights of the convicts, it is more important and need of the hour to lay down guidelines in the interest of the victims, their families and in larger public interest, lest the convicts found to be guilty of such horrible, and dreadful, cruel, abominable, ghastly, gruesome and heinous offences would be permitted to play with the majesty of law and prolonged the execution of the sentence awarded to them”.  

They have further stated that the current “convict-centric” guidelines do not “take into account an 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."

In light of the above submissions, the MHA has asked the Supreme Court to make the following changes to the guidelines -

  1. Establishing a time limit for a convict of death sentence to file a curative petition before the Supreme Court, if he so chooses.
  2. Curtailing the mandatory two weeks notice to be given to a convict after the rejection of his mercy petition to 7 days.
  3. In case of multiple convicts (as is the case in Nirbhaya), the death warrant should mandatorily be issued within 7 days of rejection of the mercy petition and the death sentence should be executed within 7 days after that irrespective of any proceedings initiated by his co-convicts.

The above pleas made by the MHA before the Supreme Court will have a direct impact on the hanging of the Nirbhaya rapists who are to be hanged at 6:00 am on February 1, if no more delays occur.

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