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Mercy Petition

Delay in the disposal of mercy petition - Where there has been delay in the disposal of the mercy petition, the death sentence should be converted in to life imprisonment. For the imposition of death penalty there should be special reasons justifying the imposition of death penalty.

Sub-section (5) of Section 367 of the Criminal Procedure, 1898, as it stood before the Amendment Act 26 of 1955, enjoined upon the court convicting a person of a capital offence to give reasons why imprisonment for life, instead of death sentence was being awarded.

That is to say, at that time the normal sentence to be awarded to a person found guilty of murder was death and improvement for life an exception. The Amending Act, 26 of 1955,  deleted sub Section (5) if section 367. The result was that the court was left with a discretion to inflict the death sentence or the sentence of life imprisonment, each according to the circumstances and exigencies of each case.

In keeping with the current ideological thought, now the new Code, of 1973, which came in to force on April 1, 1974, makes imprisonment for life, a rule and death sentence an exception in the matter of awarding punishment for murder. Now, if a death sentence is to be awarded to a person found guilty of murder, the court awarding it has to justify it to by giving special reasons.

Each case must be decided on its own facts, and a sentence of improvement for life can only be sustained if the facts justify that the extreme penalty of Law should not be imposed. ( Babu vs State of U.P, AIR1965 SC 1467: 1965(2) Cr LJ 539

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