The midnight petitioners of the Supreme Court

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New Delhi, July 31: While there is a lot that is being spoken about the pre-dawn hearing by the Supreme Court in the Yakub Memon case, this is however not the first time something to this effect has taken place.

Read more: The hangman's dilemma: It is never easy at the gallows

In the past there have been two such instances when the Supreme Court has opened its doors for death row convicts.

The midnight petitioners of the SC

While the case of Surinder Koli in the Nithari serial rape and murder case is one, the other is with regard to Manganlal Barela convicted for killing his children. In both these cases the Supreme Court was moved after it had closed its doors.

Mid-night petitioners:

Manganlal Barela was sentenced to death after being found guilty of killing his children. His mercy petition by the President of India had been rejected and the date of his hanging was fixed for April 9 2013.

At around 11 PM, his advocates moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on his execution.
The petition was heard at the judge's residence and a stay was ordered. Around 5 hours prior to his hanging for which all preparations had been made, the fax from the Supreme Court reached the Jabalpur jail and his execution was put off.

In the case of Surinder Koli the execution was scheduled for September 9 2014. However at midnight, his lawyers moved the court with a plea to re-hear the review petition. The judges H L Dattu and A R Dave. Both the judges met and decided to re-hear the review petition. The judges stayed the execution and ordered that the matter be heard in open court.

Open court hearings a must:

When it comes to a review petition the law now states that it shall be heard in an open court by a three judge bench. As per a constitutional bench order of the Supreme Court, all review petitions must be heard by judges in an open court.

A three judge bench must be constituted to hear a review petition, the supreme court had also held.

This doctrine was applied for the first time in the Koli case. In the Yakub Memon case there was a difference. When Chief Justice H L Dattu received the petition at his residence at midnight, he did not stay the execution and post hearing of the review for another date.

There was already so much time that had been lost and the date of execution had been fixed for early morning (July 30).

The Chief Justice instead ordered a three judge bench be constituted and the matter be heard. The hearing went on for nearly 90 minutes and at 4.59 AM, two hours before the execution, the order was passed. The Bench refused to stay the execution.

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