SC recalls order enhancing life term to death

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Asks convicts to file fresh appeals

The Supreme Court has recalled its 2009 judgment converting life imprisonment for three persons, found guilty of rape and murder, to death.

A Review Bench led by Justice Kurian Joseph found that the three convicts did not have a lawyer to defend them in the apex court during the hearing of an appeal filed by the Maharashtra government for enhancement of their sentence.

Lost opportunity

Deciding their review petition against the 2009 judgment, the Bench allowed the three men to file fresh appeals. These appeals would now be heard by an appropriate Bench of the apex court.

“They have been deprived of an opportunity of engaging counsel and of urging such submissions as they may have been advised to urge in defence to the appeals filed by the State for enhancement,” the Supreme Court held in an order on October 31.

Lifeline for co-accused

The Justice Kurian Bench also threw a life-line to three other co-accused in the case. These three had already been sentenced to death by the lower courts. They had separately approached the Supreme Court for a stay of their impending execution. In 2009, the Supreme Court had dismissed their appeals against their death penalty. Now, almost nine years later, the court reasoned that since the first three men have been granted an opportunity to file fresh appeals, their co-accused should also be given the same chance before the Supreme Court.

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