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Report No. 262

F. Judicial Review of Exercise of Mercy Powers

6.6.1 The Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan has recorded that the Home Ministry considers the following factors while deciding mercy petitions:

(a) Personality of the accused (such as age, sex or mental deficiency) or circumstances of the case (such as provocation or similar justification);

(b) Cases in which the appellate Court expressed doubt as to the reliability of evidence but has nevertheless decided on conviction;

(c) Cases where it is alleged that fresh evidence is obtainable mainly with a view to see whether fresh enquiry is justified;

(d) Where the High Court on appeal reversed acquittal or on an appeal enhanced the sentence;

(e) Is there any difference of opinion in the Bench of High Court Judges necessitating reference to a larger Bench;

(f) Consideration of evidence in fixation of responsibility in gang murder case;

(g) Long delays in investigation and trial etc. Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India,(2014) 3 SCC 1, at paras 55-56.

6.6.2 However, when the actual exercise of the Ministry of Home Affairs (on whose recommendations mercy petitions are decided) is analysed, it is seen that many times these guidelines have not been adhered to. Writ Courts in numerous cases have examined the manner in which the executive has considered mercy petitions. In fact, the Supreme Court as part of the batch matter Shatrughan Chauhan case heard 11 writ petitions challenging the rejection of the mercy petition by the executive. Some of these decisions are analysed in the following pages.

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