The Madras High Court today ordered notice to the Centre on a PIL challenging constitutional validity of a particular section in an act covering maritime offences that prescribes death penalty as the only punishment for certain offences.
Ordering notice to the Union Home and Law ministries, a bench comprising justices S.Nagamuthu and M V Muralidharan of the Madurai bench posted the PIL for hearing after two weeks.
Petitioner R Rameez Ajmalkhan in his PIL challenged the Constitutional validity of Sec 3(1)(g)(I) of Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation Fixed Platform Continental Shelf Act 2002.
Stating that the act prescribed death penalty as the only punishment for offences that led to the death of a person, he contended that this was against Article 21 of the Constitution (Protection of life and personal liberty).
Whereas Sec 3(1)(a) to 3(1)(f) of the act listed out various offences that could be perpetrated against a ship, or maritime navigational facilities and prescribed different terms of imprisonment.
Hence, such a prescription (of capital punishment) without paving the way for judicial discretion to impose alternative or lesser punishment was against the Constitution, fundamental and human rights, the petitioner submitted.
The Indian Penal Code also prescribed death sentence for certain offences but gave discretion to the judge to impose lesser punishment.
Even the Supreme Court has ruled that death sentence should be imposed only in the rarest of rare cases, he pointed out.
( Source – PTI )