New Delhi, Jan. 29: The Centre has decided to move the Supreme Court for a review of last week’s judgment commuting the death penalty of 15 convicts on the ground of delays in deciding their mercy petitions.
Official sources said the home ministry had asked the law ministry to seek the help of attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati in drafting the review petition. Vahanvati said he had not been consulted so far.
Though the Centre has not spelt out its stand, the possibility of the review petition emerged today when senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for three Rajiv Gandhi killers on death row, raised the issue.
He told the bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh that the Centre was deliberately delaying hearings on a petition by the trio seeking commutation as it was in the process of filing a review petition against the January 21 judgment.
Suspicions of a delaying tactic were fuelled by repeated requests for adjournment of the Rajiv-related case by additional solicitor-general Sidharth Luthra, who is representing the Centre, over the past two days.
Luthra sought adjournment of the Rajiv killers’ plea till next week, saying he needed time to prepare for arguments. But Jethmalani opposed the request. “They are seeking the adjournment so that they can file a review petition against your lordships’ judgment of January 21.”
Luthra did not deny the claim but said: “They may be filing (the review plea). But I am seeking the adjournment because the attorney-general, who is to appear in this matter, is not available.” But the bench said it would start hearings from tomorrow.