Recently, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of a man accused of raping and murdering a minor into life imprisonment, observing the possibility and the probability of the reformation and rehabilitation of the man.


Procedure of death penalty review –

  • The award of the death sentence by a trial court must be reaffirmed by a High Court to make it final.
  • Article 137 of the Indian Constitution provides the power to the Supreme Court to review the orders and judgments passed by it. The Review Petition can be filed under Section 114 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) with limitations and conditions provided in Order 47.
  • After the dismissal of the review petition, the person can file Curative Petition.
      • Petitioners can file curative petitions in case of gross violation of principles of natural justice.
      • The curative petition will be sent to the three senior most judges and the bench of judges who passed the judgment.
      • If the majority of them find substance in the petition, then the matter would be sent to the same bench of judges.


Filing of Mercy petition

  • Mercy Petition can be filed by the convicts. It is to be filed within a period of seven days from the date when the Superintendent of jail informs the convicted person of the dismissal of the petition.
  • Article 72 and Article 161 of the Constitution provides the power to pardon the petitioner to the President and the Governor, respectively.


About the ‘Project 39A’ –

  • As per a report, titled ‘Death Penalty in India: Annual Statistics Report’ published by Project 39A, there were 488 prisoners on death row across India, as of 31st December 2021.
  • Project 39A is a criminal law reforms advocacy group at the National Law University, Delhi.
  • It is inspired by Article 39A of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society and ensures justice for all.
  • The article was inserted by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.