L.K. Venkat Vs. Union
of India and others
383-385 of 2011]
Javid Iqbal &
others Vs. V. Sriharan @ Murugan and others
Petition (Criminal) Nos. 462-464 of 2011]
J U D G M E N T
G.S. SINGHVI, J.
the parties have made diametrically opposite assertions about the atmosphere
which prevailed in the State after rejection by the President of India of the
mercy petitions filed by V. Sriharan @ Muruganand two others, we do not consider
it necessary to decide whether the support extended by the political outfits and
others to those who were found guilty of killing the former Prime Minister Shri
Rajiv Gandhi may impede fair adjudication of the writ petitions filed by them warrants
transfer of the three writ petitions from the Madras High Court to this Court. However,
keeping in view the fact that an identical question is pending consideration
before this Court in Writ Petition (Criminal) D. No.16039 of 2011 titled
Devender Pal Singh Bhullar v. State of NCT of Delhi, we deem it proper to exercise
power under Article 139A(1) of theConstitution.
K. Venkat and Javid Iqbal and others have filed these petitions for transfer of
Writ Petition No. 20287 of 2011 titled V. Sriharan @ Murugan v. Union of India
and others, Writ Petition No. 20288 of 2011titled T. Suthendraraja @ Santhan v.
Union of India and others and Writ Petition No. 20289 of 2011 titled A.G. Perarivalan
@ Arivu v. Union of India and others which are pending before the Madras High Court
writ petitioners and some others were convicted by the Special Judge for
offences under Section 302 read with Section 120B IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 15 of
the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities(Prevention) Act, 1987 (for short,
TADA) and were sentenced to death. The appeals filed by them were dismissed
by this Court vide judgment reported as State v. Nalini (1999) 5 SCC 253.
mercy petitions filed by the writ petitioners were rejected by the President of
India on 11.8.2011. Thereafter, they filed three writ petitions, of which particulars
have been mentioned hereinabove, for quashing the rejection of the petitions
filed by them under Article 72 of the Constitution on the ground of violation
of the principles laid down in various judgments of this Court including T.V. Vatheeswaran
v. State of Tamil Nadu (1983) 2 SCC 68, Sher Singh v. State of Punjab (1983) 2
SCC 344,K.P. Mohammed v. State of Kerala 1984 (Supp.) SCC 684, Javed Ahmed Abdul
Hamid Pawala v. State of Maharashtra (1985) 1 SCC 275, Triveniben v. State of
Gujarat, (1989) 1 SCC 678, Madhu Mehta v. Union of India (1989) 4 SCC62, Daya
Singh v. Union of India (1991) 3 SCC 61, Shivaji Jaising Babar v. State of
Maharashtra (1991) 4 SCC 375 and Jagdish v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2009) 9
petitioners have sought transfer of the writ petitions by asserting that
hearing thereof in the Madras High Court may not be possible in congenial
atmosphere because of the agitation launched by different political outfits,
extremist groups and lawyers and also because thousands of people gathered in
the High Court premises and raised slogans outside and inside the Court
premises. The petitioners in the second case have also pleaded that the main
question raised in the writ petitions pending before the High Court is
identical to the question raised in the cases of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and
Mahendra Nath Das, which are pending before this Court.
Government of Tamil Nadu and some of the private respondents have controverted
the petitioners assertion that the atmosphere in the State is highly
surcharged and fair hearing of the writ petitions filed by the convicts is not
possible in the Madras High Court. They have pleaded that there is no
impediment in the hearing of the writ petitions by the Madras High Court and
the same should not be transferred merely because similar issue is pending
before this Court. They have also questioned the locus standi of the
petitioners to seek transfer of the writ petitions from the Madras High Court
by alleging that they are merely busy-body and are interested in publicity.
have heard learned counsel for the parties. While the counsel representing the
Union of India submitted that his client does not have any objection to
transfer of the writ petitions from the Madras High Court because similar
matters are pending before this Court, Shri Gurukrishna Kumar, learned
Additional Advocate General representing the State of Tamil Nadu took up the
position that the State Government is not in favour of transfer of the writ petitions
because there is no impediment in the hearing of the writ petitions by the High
Court. Shri Anil Diwan, learned senior counsel and Shri Jayant Muthraj, learned
counsel appearing for the writ petitioners argued that the prayer made in the transfer
petitions should not be entertained because the petitioners do not have locus stand
I in the matter and pre-requisites enumerated in Article 139A (1) of the Constitution
for the exercise of power by this Court have not been satisfied. Shri Anil
Diwan submitted that even though the issue raised in the writ petitions pending
before the High Court is similar to the one raised in the petitions, there is
no necessity to transfer the same to this Court because the law laid down in
the two writ petitions pending before this Court will govern final adjudication
of the cases pending before the High Court.
139A which provides for transfer of certain cases reads asunder: 139A.
Transfer of certain cases. (1) Where cases involving the same or substantially
the same questions of law are pending before the Supreme Court and one or more
High Courts or before two or more High Courts and the Supreme Court is
satisfied on its own motion or on an application made by the Attorney-General
of India or by a party to any such case that such questions are substantial questions
of general importance, the Supreme Court may withdraw the case or cases pending
before the High Court or the High Courts and dispose of all the cases itself: Provided
that the Supreme Court may after determining the said questions of law return
any case so withdrawn together with a copy of its judgment on such questions to
the High Court from which the case has been withdrawn, and the High Court shall
on receipt thereof, proceed to dispose of the case in conformity with such
judgment. (2) The Supreme Court may, if it deems it expedient so to do for the ends
of justice, transfer any case, appeal or other proceedings pending before any
High Court to any other High Court.
reading of the plain language of Clause (1) of Article 139A shows that the
power to transfer the particular case or cases can be exercised by this Court
either on its own motion or on an application made by the Attorney General of
India or by a party to such case(s) provided that the cases involve the same or
substantially the same question(s) of law which is pending before this Court
and one or more High Courts or before two or more High Courts and such
questions are substantial questions of generalimportance.
is no dispute between the parties that the question which arises for
consideration in the writ petitions filed by V. Sriharan @Murugan, T.
Suthendraraja @ Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan @ Arivu, that is, whether long delay
in the decision of the mercy petitions entitles the convicts to seek
commutation of death sentence is similar to the one raised in the cases filed
by Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das. In our opinion, that question
is of substantial general importance and decision thereof is likely to affect
large number of persons who have been convicted by the competent Courts and
sentenced to death and whose mercy petitions have remained pending for years together.
Therefore, we are satisfied that it will be in the interest of justice to
transfer the three writ petitions pending before the Madras High Court to this
the result, the transfer petitions are allowed and Writ Petition No. 20287 of
2011 titled V. Sriharan @ Murugan v. Union of India and others, Writ Petition
No. 20288 of 2011 titled T. Suthendraraja @ Santhanv. Union of India and others
and Writ Petition No. 20289 of 2011 titled A.G. Perarivalan @ Arivu v. Union of
India and others pending before the Madras High Court are transferred to this
Registrar General of the Madras High Court is directed to ensure that the
records of the three writ petitions are sent to this Court per messenger within
two weeks of the receipt of communication from the Registry of this Court.
transferred cases shall be listed before the Court on 10.7.2012for final
disposal. Notice be issued to the writ petitioners that their case will be
taken up for hearing by this Court on 10.7.2012. One set of the notices be also
sent to the Superintendent, Central Jail, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, who shall ensure
that the same are served upon the writ petitioners well before 10.7.2012.
Registry is directed to send copies of this order to the Registrar General of
Madras High Court and Superintendent, Central Jail, Vellore, Tamil Nadu by fax.
[SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA]