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Report No. 262

(ii) Cases involving Long delays in Investigation and Trial

a. The Case of Gurmeet Singh's Writ [Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 193/2013] was considered in the batch matter Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India, (2014) 3 SCC 1. See paras 148-16 for the outcome in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 193/2013. See also Gurmeet Singh v. State of U.P., (2005) 12 SCC 107.

6.6.4 When a convict on death row has already spent a considerable period of time in prison, before the mercy plea is decided by the President, it becomes a strong factor in deciding whether or not such a prisoner still deserves the additional punishment of execution.

6.6.5 Gurmeet was arrested on 16.10.1986, convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court on 20.7.1992. The High Court confirmed his death sentence (per majority) on 8.3.1996, and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and death sentence on 28.9.2005. The convict's mercy petition was decided on 1.3.2013, by which time he had spent 27 years in custody, of which about 21 years were under a death sentence. These factors were ignored and his mercy petition was rejected. The Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan commuted the death sentence of Gurmeet Singh on account of inordinate time taken by the executive in disposal of his mercy petition.

b. The Cases of Simon and Others Writ preferred by Simon and others [(Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 34/2013] was considered in the batch matter Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India, (2014) 3 SCC 1. See paras 120-137 for the outcome in the said Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 34/2013. See also Simon v. State of Karnataka, (2004) 2 SCC 694.

6.6.6 Simon, Bilavendran, Gnanprakasam and Madiah were arrested on 14.7.1993, and convicted by the trial court under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Acton 29.9.2001. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. The state appealed to the Supreme Court for enhancement of sentence, but its special leave petition was dismissed due to delay. When the criminal appeal filed by the convicts was being heard, the Supreme Court, suo motu, issued notice for enhancement of sentence, and then sentenced the convicts to death on 29.1.2004.

This was the first time the convicts had been sentenced to death, and since it had been done by the Supreme Court there was no appeal possible after this. When the convict's mercy pleas were decided 9 years later, they had already spent 19 years and 7 months in custody in prison. Simon, Bilavendran, Gnanprakasam and Madiah were aged 50, 55, 60 and 64 years when their mercy petitions were rejected by the President on 8.2.2013 after a delay of about 9 years. Their petitions were finally allowed by the Supreme Court.

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