It held that delay in deciding a mercy plea is a relevant ground for commuting a death sentence to life imprisonment.
It also ruled that the death convict and his family members must be informed after his mercy plea is rejected by the President or Governor and that a death convict must be hanged within 14 days after dismissal of his mercy petition.
The Apex court further observed that the death sentence of a condemned prisoner cannot be executed if he is suffering from mental illness and schizophrenia and must be commuted to life imprisonment.
Solitary confinement of a death convict and other prisoners is unconstitutional, it held.
Legal aid should be provided inside the jail to all the condemned prisoners, it said.