Death penalty: On issue of mitigating circumstances, Top refers case to 5-judge bench

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The Supreme Court on Monday noted a five-judge Constitution bench a suo motu plea to border guidelines on how and when potential mitigating circumstances be considered by courts during trial in cases which entail the corporal punishment because the maximum punishment.

A bench headed by magistrate Uday Umesh Lalit said it had been of the opinion that this matter required a hearing by a bigger bench to own clarity and uniform approach on when an accused, facing corporal punishment as maximum sentence, is required to be heard with relevancy mitigating circumstances. "Let the matter be placed before the CJI for orders during this regard," Justice S Ravindra Bhat said while pronouncing the decision, reports PTI from capital of India.

"A death sentence is irreversible and each opportunity should incline to the accused for consideration of mitigating circumstances in order that the court concludes that executing isn't warranted," the bench had observed while reserving its verdict on August 17.

The top court had taken note of the problem, saying there was an urgent must make sure that mitigating circumstances for conviction of offences that carry the chance of a death sentence are considered at the trial stage.

The case was titled as Framing Guidelines Regarding Potential Mitigating Circumstances to be Considered While Imposing Death Sentences .

The suo motu case was registered by the court in April while hearing a plea by one Irfan @ Bhayu Mevati (appellant) challenging the executing imposed on him by the judicature and confirmed by the Madhya Pradesh court.

It was recognized that the analysis and report by the officer in such cases don't consider the whole profile of the accused and should be dependent upon the interviews which might have taken place at the fag end of the trial, in keeping with leag website Bar& Bench.

Hence, the Court had opined that other than the officer, if someone from the defence side is given the power of interviewing the accused right at the start of the trial, a comprehensive analysis can then be projected at a stage when the matter is taken into account from the standpoint of whether death sentence is to be imposed or not.

To consider these aspects, the court had converted an application filed by Project 39A of National Law University, Delhi into a separate writ petition. It had also issued notice to Attorney General KK Venugopal and also the Member Secretary of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), within the matter.

Further, it had appointed Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, assisted by Advocate K Parameshwar, as adviser within the matter.

Last month, the Court had reserved its orders on the problem, stating that they might either refer the problem to a bigger bench, or frame the rules itself, which can overturn some earlier Supreme Court verdicts.