Proposed BNSS 2023: Changes to Mercy Petitions in Death Sentence Cases

The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) 2023, aimed at replacing the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), introduces modifications to the mercy petition process in death sentence cases. These changes encompass crucial aspects such as justiciability, time limits, and the gap between rejection and execution. Unlike earlier guidelines, the BNSS provision does not necessitate the President to align with council of ministers’ advice in death sentence cases. The provision allows convicts to file mercy petitions before the President or State Governor within 30 days of certain triggers.

The Central Government reviews these petitions, making recommendations to the President within 60 days. However, the BNSS doesn’t impose a time frame for the President’s decision, raising concerns. The provision also bars judicial review of the President’s decision, contrasting existing legal precedent. Notably, the proposed BNSS lacks a specific time window between rejection and execution, a safeguard endorsed in prior rulings.

How does the BNSS alter the mercy petition process for death sentence cases?

The BNSS introduces changes to the mercy petition process, removing the requirement for the President to follow council of ministers’ advice. It allows convicts to file mercy petitions within 30 days based on certain triggers, empowering both the President and the State Governor to review these pleas.

What triggers prompt a convict to file a mercy petition under the BNSS?

Convicts can file a mercy petition when the Jail Superintendent informs them about the dismissal of their appeal by the Supreme Court or the confirmation of the death sentence by the High Court, along with the expiration of time to appeal. This initiates the process for mercy petitions.

How does the BNSS address mercy petitions involving multiple convicts?

In cases with multiple convicts, the superintendent ensures all convicts file a mercy petition within 60 days. If any convict doesn’t comply, the superintendent forwards their details and case records to the Central or State Government for consideration.

What role does the Central Government play in the BNSS mercy petition process?

The Central Government reviews mercy petitions, seeks state government’s comments, and makes recommendations to the President within 60 days. However, the BNSS doesn’t specify a time limit for the President to decide on these recommendations.

How does the BNSS provision affect the judicial review of the President’s decision?

The proposed BNSS provision explicitly bars any appeal in court against the President’s decision on mercy petitions. This contrasts with previous legal precedent that allowed judicial review based on various grounds like mala fide intentions or failure to consider relevant materials.

Does the BNSS address the time gap between mercy petition rejection and execution?

Unlike earlier rulings, the proposed BNSS does not specify a time frame between rejection of a mercy petition and execution. This raises concerns regarding the mental and emotional preparation of the convict, which was deemed essential in prior legal judgments.


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