The Centre today directed all states to take “urgent suitable action” in implementing the Supreme Court’s guidelines for safeguarding the interest of the death row convicts.
In a communication, the Home Ministry said the court had examined several individual death row cases and commuted capital punishment of the petitioners to life imprisonment.
“You are requested to take urgent suitable action for implementing the orders of the Supreme Court in your state/ Union Territories,” Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry S Suresh Kumar said in the communication accessed by PTI.
The Ministry said the apex court had said legal aid should be provided to the convicts at all stages even after the rejection of mercy petition.
Hence, Superintendents of Jail are directed to intimate the rejection of mercy petitions to the nearest legal aid centre apart from intimating the convicts.
It said the convict has a constitutional right under Article 72 of the Constitution to make a mercy petition and hence the rejection of the mercy plea by the President should forthwith be communicated to the convict and his family in writing.
It would be mandatory for prison authorities to facilitate and allow a final meeting between the prisoner and his family and friends prior to his execution.
Following the hanging of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru about a year ago, his family members had complained that they were not informed in advance about his scheduled execution at Tihar Jail in Delhi.
The family had said they received the information only after his hanging, that too through the media.
Facing flak, the Home Ministry had claimed that they sent a letter to Guru’s family in Kashmir through SpeedPost which the family received a few days after his execution.