Act fast on 26 mercy pleas: Indian SC to Centre

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Supreme Court of India
New Delhi, Sep 21: The Supreme Court of India criticised the Centre for delaying decision on 26 mercy pleas of convicts, who were sentenced to death.

This directive also included the case of Afzal Guru condemned for 2001 parliament attack.

"Human beings are not chattels and should not be used as pawns in furthering some larger political or government policy," said the Supreme Court.

A Bench comprising Justices Harjit Singh Bedi and J M Panchal said the government should not forget that the lives of these condemned prisoners for years were hanging between death and life.

The delay in carrying out the death sentences also increases the chances of life imprisonment.

The court asked the concerned authorities to put themselves in the place of these prisoners and their families.

"Contrast this with the plight of a prisoner, who has been under a sentence of death for 15 years or more living on hope but engulfed in fear as his life hangs in balance and in the hands of those who have no personal interest in his case and for whom he is only a name," said the Bench.

The apex court said that judges visiting the jail, where executions take place get a clear picture of the lives of these prisoners.

"In addition to the solitary confinement and lack of privacy with respect to even daily ablutions, the rattle on the cell door heralding the arrival of the jailor with the prospect as harbinger of bad news, a condemned prisoner lives a life of uncertainty and defeat," Justice Bedi said.

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