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SC questions issuance of death warrants by trial courts before expiry of time period for appeal

SC questions issuance of death warrants by trial courts before expiry of time period for appeal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday questioned the issuance of black warrants by trial courts for execution of death penalty even before the expiry of 60-day time period for filing of appeals in the apex court by the convicts.

The top court's observation came during the hearing of an appeal, filed by death row convict Anil Surendra Singh Yadav, alleging that the black warrant was issued by a Gujarat sessions court just 33 days after his conviction was upheld by the high court.

Yadav was convicted for rape and murder of a 3-year old girl in 2018 in Surat.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde stayed the execution of Yadav's death warrant.

The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, wondered as to how trial courts issue death warrants despite there being a reported judgement of the apex court, passed in 2015, that black warrants cannot be issued before the expiry of 60-day statutory period for filing an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict.

"We want to know as to how such orders issuing black warrants are being passed by the trial court despite a reported judgement in this regard.

"Someone has to explain this. The judicial process cannot be allowed to happen like this," the bench said.

The CJI said there has been a "clamour" on the delay in execution of death penalty in rape and murder cases and here a sessions court issued the death warrant before the expiry of statutory period.

The bench said that due to non-compliance of the apex court's judgement, it has to stay the death warrant and asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in the courtroom, to assist the court.

The law officer said the ignorance of law cannot be grounds for the trial court judges to pass such orders. Senior advocate Aprajita Singh, appearing for the convict, said there was a mandatory waiting period of 60 days by law which must be followed in order to challenge the conviction under death

penalty.

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