Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde on Thursday frowned at death row convicts endlessly filing petitions, observing that the Supreme Court should focus not only on rights of the accused but victims as well. Chief Justice Bobde’s observations, were made in context of a petition from a couple from Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha.
The two had been handed out the death penalty for sedating the woman’s family and hacking them to death in April 2008. A 10-month-old baby was also among the seven people murdered by them. The infant was strangled.
The couple was arrested within five days and sentenced to death in 2010.
The Supreme Court had cancelled their execution warrant in 2015 on grounds that the magistrate had acted in haste and the convicts were yet to exercise their legal options.
As the hearing resumed on their plea on Thursday, Chief Justice Bobde remarked that it was extremely important for the death sentence to have some finality. A death row convict shouldn’t feel that the sentence can be questioned all the time, Chief Justice Bobde said, stressing that “one cannot go on fighting endlessly”.
“We don’t want to focus or emphasise only on rights of accused in a case in which 7 people including a 10-month-old baby have been murdered,” the Chief Justice said.
The top judge’s observation comes just a day after the central government requested the Supreme Court to amend its 2014 verdict that laid down guidelines on handling mercy petitions. The Shatrughan Chauhan judgment also mandated a gap of 14 days between the rejection of mercy petition and the scheduled date of execution to prevent secret executions and give the convict time to prepare for his or her death.
The government, in its petition urged the court to adopt a victim-centric approach in heinous crimes so that faith of the public in judicial process is not shaken.
The Centre’s request was made against the backdrop of the delay in carrying out the death warrant of the four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case has been widely criticised. The mother of the victim has been especially critical of the process.
The delay has also become a political issue with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power in the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party, which governs Delhi trading charges. Elections in Delhi are to be held on February 8.