Constitution Bench to decide on remission of life sentences of Rajiv Gandhi killers: SC

A Large Bench of the Supreme Court of India referred the matter on remission of life imprisonment of convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to a Constitution Bench and continued its interim order of staying the State of Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free them.

The Court framed the following questions for the Constitution Bench: –

(i) Whether imprisonment for life in terms of Section 53 read with Section 45 of the Indian Penal Code meant imprisonment for rest of the life of the prisoner or a convict undergoing life imprisonment has a right to claim remission and whether a special category of sentence may be made for the very few cases where the death penalty might be substituted by the punishment of imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of fourteen years and to put that category beyond application of remission?

(ii) Whether the “appropriate Government” is permitted to exercise the power of remission under Section 432/433 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“Code”) after the parallel power has been exercised by the President under Article 72 or the Governor under Article 161 or by this Court in its Constitutional power under Article 32 as in this case?

(iii) Whether Section 432(7) of the Code clearly gives primacy to the executive power of the Union and excludes the executive power of the State where the power of Union is co-extensive?

(iv) Whether the Union or the State has primacy over the subject matter enlisted in List III of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India for exercise of power of remission?

(v) Whether there can be two appropriate Governments in a given case under Section 432(7) of the Code?

(vi) Whether suo motu exercise of power of remission under Section 432(1) is permissible in the scheme of the section if, yes whether the procedure prescribed in sub-clause (2) of the same Section is mandatory or not?

(vii) Whether the term “consultation” stipulated in Section 435(1) of the Code implies “concurrence”?

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