Friday, February 6, 2015

High court stays execution after President delays mercy plea call

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Aug 9, 2014, 06.27AM IST NEW DELHI: The Gauhati high court has stayed the execution of condemned prisoner Holiram Bordoloi on his petition seeking commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment on the ground that there had been inordinate and inexplicable delay on the President's part to decide on his mercy plea. Appearing for Bordoloi, senior advocate AK Bhattacharyya relied on the January 21 judgment of the apex court, which ruled that in cases where the President had taken "inordinate and inexplicably" long time to decide a mercy plea, then on its rejection the condemned prisoner had a right to move the court on ground of delay to seek commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment. Bordoloi was convicted by a Morigaon trial court on March 3, 2004 for leading an armed group to a hut and burning it down along with a scared family which was cowering inside. A six-year-old boy escaped the fire and came out running. But, Bordoloi had flung him inside the burning hut. Another person was dragged out and cut to pieces. The Supreme Court had upheld Bordoloi's conviction and death sentence on April 8, 2005. It had said: "There was no spark of any kindness or compassion and his mind was brutal and the entire incident would have certainly shocked the collective conscience of the community. We are unable to find any mitigating circumstance to refrain from imposing the death penalty on the appellant Holiram Bordoloi." Bordoloi had filed a mercy petition and in his petition before the high court claimed that the President decided it after 9 years and 3 months. A bench of Justices C R Sharma and M R Pathak on Tuesday said: "The point raised in this writ petition is that there was inordinate delay in disposing the mercy petition and that no reason has been given for such delay. According to the petitioner, in view of the decision given by the apex court, the death sentence cannot be executed at this stage." The bench issued notice to the Centre and sought response by September 5. It stayed the execution till further orders and ordered the Registry to communicate the order to Nagaon Special Jail, where Bordoloi is lodged at present. On January 21, the Supreme Court in an unprecedented order commuted the death penalties of 15 convicts — each found guilty in multiple brutal murders — to life term on the ground that the President had taken inordinately long time to reject their mercy pleas. The court came to the rescue of the 15, some of whom had been served with execution warrants, on two grounds — inordinate, undue and unexplained delay in disposal of their mercy pleas and non-consideration of their mental illness. The court had also fixed a mandatory 14-day gap between rejection of a mercy petition and the hanging to allow the convict to prepare for death and meet his family for the last time. A bench of then Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh had said, "Keeping a convict in suspense while consideration of his mercy petition by the President for many years is an agony for him/her. It creates adverse physical conditions and psychological stresses on the convict under sentence of death." Source: [last accessed 06.02.2015]

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