Execution of Veerappan’s aides stayed for 6 weeks

FP

Fate of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerappan's four aides — who have been on the death row — hangs in balance over a judgment to be pronounced in a similar case. For, the Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to wait for a verdict by another Bench on the question if the death penalty should be commuted to life term on account of delay in deciding mercy petitions.

Extending the stay on their execution for another six weeks, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it would not want to pass "conflicting" orders in view of the fact that another Bench has already reserved its verdict on the same issue after extensively hearing the arguments.

"We were informed that while considering the two matters before it, the Bench also had an occasion to consider other similar pending matters. Since there is a possibility of conflict of decisions if this matter is heard by this Bench, it is proper to adjourn the hearing till the decision in the other matter is pronounced," it said.

A Bench led by Justice Singhvi had on April 19, 2012 reserved its judgment on petitions by Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, convicted of a bombing in Delhi in 1993, and M N Das, sentenced to death in a murder case. The duo had asked for commuting their sentences because it had taken unreasonably long for their mercy petitions to be rejected. During the hearing, this Bench also sought details of all the mercy petitions — decided as well as pending before the President.

On Wednesday, the CJI-led Bench underlined that the petition by Veerappan's elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran, who were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2004 for killing 22 policemen in a landmine attack while the President rejected their clemency petitions last week, raised the same questions.

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