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CIMA Gallary

Stay on hangings till verdict in delay case

New Delhi, Feb. 20: The Supreme Court has extended by six weeks the stay on the execution of four associates of slain bandit Veerappan and decided to await the outcome of a case pending before another bench.

Gnanprakasham, Simon Anthoniyappa, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran have been sentenced to death for killing 22 policemen in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.

The plea for a stay after the President rejected the mercy petitions had assumed significance against the backdrop of the hanging of Afzal Guru. Rights organisations had said that the Parliament attack convict was not allowed to exhaust all options after his clemency appeal was turned down.

The apex court today declined to entertain the Centre’s plea for vacating the initial stay granted on February 18 on the execution of Veerappan’s associates.

The court said it would examine the petitions filed by the four convicts after six weeks. By then, another bench headed by Justice G.S. Singhvi is expected to rule on a bunch of petitions seeking commutation of death sentences to life terms because of prolonged delay by the President in disposing of the mercy pleas.

Today, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices A.R. Dave and Vikramjit Sen felt that the proper course for it would be to wait for the outcome of the judgment by the other bench.

Additional solicitor-general Harin Raval, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and T.R. Andhiarujina informed the court that the other bench had extensively heard arguments and examined various documents.

“It was brought to our notice that in the other writ petitions, the matter has been considered at length by the other bench… and the judgment has been reserved on April 19, 2012…. In our view, the proper course would be to adjourn the matter till a decision is taken,” the bench said.