DEATH SENTENCE: MERCY PETITION: Delayed Disposal
The rule enunciated by the Apex Court that long delay may be one of the grounds for commutation of the sentence of death into life imprisonment cannot be invoked in cases where a person is convicted for offence under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act or similar statutes. Such cases stand on an altogether different plane and cannot be compared with murders committed due to personal animosity or over property and personal disputes. The seriousness of the crimes committed by the terrorists can be gauged from the fact that many hundred innocent civilians and men in uniform have lost their lives. As observed, it is paradoxical that the people who do not show any mercy or compassion for others plead for mercy and project delay in disposal of the petition filed under Article 72 or 161 of the Constitution as a ground for commutation of death. Many others join the bandwagon to espouse the cause of the terrorists involved in gruesome killing and mass murder of innocent civilians and raise the bogey of human rights.
While examining challenge to the decision taken by the President under Article 72 or the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution, as the case may be, the court's power of judicial review of such decision is very limited. The court can neither sit in appeal nor exercise the power of review, but can interfere if it is found that the decision has been taken without application of mind or the same is found on the extraneous or irrelevant considerations or is vitiated due to malafides or patent arbitrariness.
Devender Pal Singh Bhullar v. State, WP (Crl.) D. No. 16039 of 2011; Decided on 12-4-2013 (SC) [G.S. Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya, JJ.]
MEDICAL CARE: Craniopagus Twins
Saba and Farha, Craniopagus Twins (CTs), both females, are minors who are fused at the cranium. They are reported to be sharing a vital blood vessel in the brain and that Farha has two kidneys while Saba has none. Earlier also medical experts had ruled that separating Saba and Farha would require 5 or 6 operations over nine months, but each stage held a one-in-five chance that either of the girls might die. Consequently, the family has decided to go against any operation. The parents are not even agreeable for their investigation at AIIMS at state expense but only wanted financial assistance to look after the twins. Both, parents, as well as the brother are against shifting the twins to AIIMS, New Delhi for further investigation. The Supreme Court has observed that nobody is concerned with the pain and agony CTs are undergoing, not even the parents. What they want is financial help as well as palliative care. Considering the facts and circumstances of this care, the Apex Court has directed the State of Bihar to meet the complete medical expenses for the treatment of both the twins and also would pay a consolidated amount of ` 5,000 monthly to look after both Saba and Farah.
Aarushi Dhasmana v. Union of India , WP(C) No. 232 of 2012; Decided on 10-4-2013 (SC) [K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, JJ.]
BOMBAY BLAST CASE: Terrorism
On 12-3-1993, the city of Bombay witnessed an unprecedented terrorist act when in a span of about two hours, i.e., between 13:33 to 15:40 hours, a series of 12 bomb explosions took place one after the other at twelve different places in Bombay. In the abovesaid incident of serial bombings, 257 human lives were lost, 713 persons were seriously injured and properties worth about ` 27 crores were destroyed. This was the first ever terrorist attack in the world where RDX (Research Department Explosive) was used on a large scale basis after the World War II.
27 criminal cases were registered in relation to the said incidents at various police stations in Bombay city. Upon completion of the investigation, a single charge sheet was filed against 189 accused persons including 44 absconding accused persons on 4-11-1993. Subsequently, further investigation of the case was transferred to CBI who filed 19 supplementary charge sheets and the trial of 123 accused persons was concluded on 23-11-2003. Total 687 witnesses were examined and the special court pronounced the judgment on 12-9-2006/27-7-2007 awarding death sentence to 11 persons and life sentence and other sentences for the offence under TADA, the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and the Explosives Act. The trial court has convicted 100 persons and acquitted 23 persons of all the charges. In total, 51 appeals had been filed by the accused persons against their convictions while against the order of acquittal, the State has filed 48 appeals. The Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence with regard to Yakub Razak Memon (A-1) and commuted the death sentence into life imprisonment for rest of the 10 appellants.
Yakub Abdul Razak Memon v. State of Maharashtra , 2013 (3) SCALE 565; Decided on 21-3-2013 (SC) [P. Sathasivam and Dr. B.S. Chauhan, JJ.]
SUBORDINATE JUDICIARY: Duty of High Courts
A subordinate judicial officer works mostly in a charged atmosphere. He is under a psychological pressure, contestants and lawyers breathing down his neck. If the fact that he renders a decision which is resented by a litigant or his lawyer were to expose him to such risk, it will sound the death knell of the institution. 'Judge bashing' has become a favourite past time of some people. There is growing tendency of maligning the reputation of judicial officers by disgruntled elements who fail to secure an order which they desire. For functioning of democracy, an independent judiciary, to dispense justice without fear and favour is paramount. Judiciary should not be reduced to the position of flies in the hands of wanton boys.
The subordinate judiciary works in the supervision of the High Court and it faces problems at the hands of unscrupulous litigants and lawyers, and for them 'Judge bashing' becomes a favourite past time. In case the High Court does not protect the honest judicial officers, the survival of the judicial system would itself be in danger.
Nirmala J. Jhala v. State of Gujarat , C.A. No. 2668 of 2005, Decided on 18-3-2013 (SC) [Dr. B.S. Chauhan and F. Kalifulla, JJ]
Property of Female Hindu
Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, provides for conversion of life interest into absolute title on commencement of the Act. However, sub-section (2) carves out an exception to the same as it provides that such right would not be conferred where a property is acquired by a Hindu female by way of gift or under a Will or any other instrument prescribing a restricted estate in that property. Thus, if a Hindu female has been given only a 'life interest' through Will or gift or any other document referred to in Section 14 of the Act, 1956, the said right would not stand crystallized into the absolute ownership. Section 14(2) carves out an exception to rule provided in sub-section (1) thereof, which clearly provides that if a property has been acquired by a Hindu female by a Will or gift, giving her only a 'life interest', it would remain the same even after commencement of the Act, 1956, and such a Hindu female cannot acquire absolute title.
Shivdev Kaur (D) by LRs v. R.S. Grewal , C.A. Nos. 5063-5065 of 2005; Decided on 20-3-2013 (SC)
NEWSPAPER PUBLICATION: Liability of Editor
As observed, a news item has the potentiality of bringing doom's day for an individual. The Editor controls the selection of the matter that is published. Therefore, he has to keep a careful eye on the selection. Blue-penciling of news articles by any one other than the Editor is not welcome in a democratic polity. Every copy of every newspaper published in India is mandated to contain the names of the owner and Editor thereof and once the name of the Editor is shown, he shall be held responsible in any civil and criminal proceeding. Further, in view of the interpretation clause, the presumption under section 7 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, would be that he was the person who controlled the selection of the matter that was published in the newspaper. However, this presumption under section 7 of the Act is a rebuttable presumption and it would be deemed a sufficient evidence unless the contrary is proved.
Gambhirsinh R. Dekare v. Falgunbhai Chianbhai Patel , 2013 (3) SCALE 302: Crl. A. No. 433 of 2013 @ SLP (Crl.) of 3475 of 2008; Decided on 11-3-2013 (SC) [Chandramauli Kr. Prasad and V. Gopala Gowda, JJ.]