Brief facts of the case
The petitioner, Pawan Kumar Gupta filed a mercy petition on 02.03.2020 and the same was rejected by His Excellency the President of India on 04.03.2020. A second petition was filed on 18.03.2020 repeating the same grounds. Thereafter, a writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution challenging the rejection of mercy petition by his excellency the President of India on various grounds.
Arguments before the court
Shri A.P. Singh and Shri Shams Khwaja, the learned counsel for the petitioner, Pawan Kumar Gupta challenged the mercy petition on four grounds,
[i] that there was a miscarriage of justice in rejection of the mercy petition;
[ii] the petitioner’s claim of juvenility has not been finally determined as he was a juvenile at the time of the incident;
[iii] the petitioner had sustained head injuries in prison for which proper treatment was not administered;
[iv] the petitioner did not share the common intention along with other co-accused and therefore capital punishment should not be awarded.
Shri Tushar Mehta, the learned Solicitor General for the State mainly contended that the plea of juvenility and the conviction raised by the petitioner has been determined and rejected by the trial court, Sessions court and the Delhi High Court. He wholly rejected the third and fourth ground as these cannot be entertained as factors for judicial review of the order of rejection of the mercy petition passed by His Excellency the President of India under Article 72 of the Constitution.
Supreme Court’s view
The court thus, in reliance with Epuru Sudhakar & Another v. Govt. of AP & Ors. held:
“The position, therefore, is undeniable that judicial review of the order of the President or the Governor under Article 72 or Article 161, as the case may be, is available and their orders can be impugned on the following grounds:
That the order has been passed without application of mind;
That the order is mala fide;
That the order has been passed on extraneous or wholly irrelevant considerations;
That relevant materials have been kept out of consideration;
That the order suffers from arbitrariness”.
In the view of the above reasoning, the court is of the view that the plea of juvenility has been duly considered and rejected by the previous courts as submitted by the respondent. The same was applied to explain the conviction and culpability of the petitioner. They agreed that the alleged torture faced by the petitioner in prison is not a ground for challenging the judicial review powers of His Excellency the President of India in rejecting the mercy petition.
Supreme Court’s decision
Taking in consideration the view of the above reasoning, the court concluded that there is no ground for entertaining the writ petition warranting a judicial review of the order rejecting the mercy petition by His Excellency the President of India. Consequently, the writ petition was dismissed.
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