The Supreme Court today asked the Delhi High Court to decide within two months the plea of a death row convict seeking commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay to decide his mercy petition.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi passed the order after taking into account the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who said if the apex court would go into the legal issues concerning jurisdiction of high courts the delay would benefit the death row convict.
The apex court’s direction came while disposing of the transfer petition of the Chhattisgarh government which alleged that the Delhi High Court has no jurisdiction to stay the execution of a man held guilty of murder of five persons, including two children, in 2004 in its territory.
The high court in its December 6, 2016 order had said the rejection of mercy petition by the President “does give rise to a cause of action at Delhi”.
It had on March 2, 2015 stayed the execution of Sonu Sardar after which the Chhattisgarh government approached the Supreme Court challenging its jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The state government had told the apex court that the high court had no jurisdiction to stay the execution of convict Sonu Sardar as the offence had taken place in Chhattisgarh.
The Supreme Court had in February 2012 concurred with the findings of two courts below and upheld the punishment. His mercy petition was also dismissed by both the state Governor and the President of India.
In February 2015, the apex court had also rejected his review plea.
Sardar in his plea before the high court had contended that there was a delay of two years and two months by the President in deciding his mercy plea.
He had also sought commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment on account of delay in deciding his mercy plea as well as for allegedly keeping him in “solitary confinement illegally”.
Sardar, along with his brother and accomplices, had killed five members of a family, including a woman and two children, during a dacoity bid in Chhattisgarh’s Cher village on November 26, 2004. The trial court had awarded death penalty to him which was upheld by the Chhattisgarh High Court.