NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday censured the apex human rights body for interfering in the judicial sentencing system by recommending to the Assam governor to commute the capital punishment awarded to a murderer to life imprisonment. On the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission, the governor had commuted the death sentence of one Rajnath Chauhan aka Ramdeo Chauhan to life imprisonment. This decision was challenged in the SC by the victim's family.
A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and A K Ganguly reversed the governor's order and asked him to reconsider his decision in the light of an earlier judgment of the apex court relating to exercise of the constitutional power on clemency.
The Bench asked a basic question to NHRC -- "Who has violated the human rights of Chauhan?" Terming the human rights body's response, "when any action violated the human rights, there can be violation of the human rights", as evasive, the Bench said such a situation was not conceivable since the cause of the alleged violation of the human rights was the SC's judgment awarding him death penalty.
Terming the recommendation of NHRC as "without sanction of law", the Bench said the proceedings initiated by the apex human rights body were not in line with the procedure prescribed in the NHRC Act. "That being so, the recommendations, if any, by the NHRC are non est," it said.
"The State of Assam has indicated that not only the recommendations of the NHRC but several other aspects have been taken note of. But, the order directing commutation does not indicate any reason. This is contrary to what has been stated by the apex court," said Justice Pasayat, writing the judgment for the Bench.
"We, therefore, set aside the order of commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment and direct reconsideration of the application filed by Chauhan for commutation of sentence," the Bench said.
(Source: TIMES OF INDIA 9 May 2009, 0201 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN)
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