Suprime Court says Death row convict may be heard in open court
NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court Tuesday held that in the cases where the death sentence has been upheld by the apex court, the death convict will have a right that his petition seeking review of the verdict upholding death sentence will be heard by the three judges bench in an open court and he will be accorded half an hour hearing.
The apex court constitution bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said that in the review petition that have already been decided and rejected, but the death sentence has not been carried out, the convict may come back seeking the open court hearing of a review petition by a three judges bench and he getting half an hour to address the court.
In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court today said it would review its own decisions on death row prisoners in an open court, calling it a “fundamental right.” Review petitions, or petitions that ask the Supreme Court to review its own decision to reject a death row prisoner’s appeal, are currently taken up in the chambers of judges.
A Constitution bench of the country’s five senior most judges headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said if a petition has been rejected and the death sentence has not been carried out, the convict can seek an open court hearing by three judges and will get half an hour to address the court. Convicts will not have this option if their last legal recourse against execution, or a curative petition, has been rejected.
The Centre had argued that “oral hearing of review petitions” in open court amounts to reopening the cases. Today’s ruling is based on petitions by several death row convicts including Yakub Memon, who was sentenced to death in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. Another petitioner is Mohammed Arif, who was sentenced to death for his role in the 2000 Red Fort attack in which three people, including two army jawans, were killed.