New Delhi: Expressing concern over the handling of mercy pleas of prisoners by the Centre and the state, the Supreme Court has sought an explanation within 3 days.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyay has asked the home secretaries of all the states to send the records of pending mercy pleas to the Centre within three days, which would then be presented before the court.

The Apex Court also made it clear that the states may have to face ramification if records are not produced by them within the stipulated time.

Taking cognizance of two cases which took 11 years and eight years respectively, for reserving its order on the mercy pleas, the court decrying the Centre said, “From the date mercy petitions reach competent authority, what was done?"

Brushing aside the Centre's contention that delay was caused due to repeated petitions filed by convicts in courts, the bench said, “There is no bar to filing repeated petitions.”

The court was hearing a petition filed by Punjab terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here in September 1993 on Raisina Road outside the Youth Congress office killing nine people.

Bhullar has been pleading that his capital punishment be commuted to life imprisonment as there has been an inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition and he is not mentally sound. During an earlier hearing, Bhullar's counsel had argued that the delay in dealing with the mercy pleas pending since 2003 amounted to dehumanising the convict and subjecting him to ‘cruelty.’

(JPN/ Bureau)