The Supreme Court of the country will soon make guidelines regarding the procedure to be followed for awarding death sentence in courts across the country for who is to be hanged and who is not. The bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhatt and Justice PS Narasimha, taking suo motu cognizance, has started proceedings in this direction. The court has asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to assist in the matter.

A response has also been sought from the National Legal Services. The next hearing will be on May 10. According to the news, the Supreme Court took this decision while considering a petition by Irfan alias Bhaiyyu Mewati of Madhya Pradesh. Irfan was sentenced to death by the lower court for raping a minor, which has also been approved by the High Court. Irfan has appealed against this order. During the hearing on the same, Irfan’s lawyer has filed an application seeking a direction to the Mitigation Investigator to meet him in jail and allow him to collect information in his defence.

Irfan’s lawyer Irshad Hanif says that due to such restrictions in the jail rules of Madhya Pradesh, he has to file this application in the Supreme Court. According to the jail manual of MP, only a legal advisor can interview a prisoner sentenced to death. Mitigation investigators do not fit in the definition of legal advisor given in the state. Mitigation investigators are part of the defense team, who meet the accused and collect information useful in his defense. Irfan’s lawyer told that he had filed a mitigation application with the superintendent of the Central Jail in Ujjain, but to no avail. During the hearing of the application in the Supreme Court, Amicus Curiae K. Parameshwara pointed out the policy implemented in Madhya Pradesh, in which there is a provision to give promotion to the public prosecutor on the basis of how many cases he got the accused hanged.

On this, the bench directed to bring this policy on record as well. According to media reports, last month, the Supreme Court had initiated proceedings taking suo motu cognizance of reforms in the judicial process followed for awarding capital punishment in courts. The Court had observed how the procedure followed could be more fair than the death penalty. How the courts should prepare a comprehensive analysis of the nature of the crime and the accused, so that it becomes easier for them to decide whether someone should be hanged or not. PLC&GT

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