FEATURED POST

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Image
To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Bill For Absolute Right To Appeal In Death Penalty Cases Introduced In Lok Sabha

Supreme Court of India
A private member bill, ‘The Constitution (Amendment to Article 134) Bill, 2017’, to ensure natural and unrestricted right to appeal in the Supreme Court in all cases of death penalty, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday, by Member of Parliament, Mr. B. Vinod Kumar.

“Through this Bill, my intention is to ensure that every convict, who has been awarded death sentence by the lower court and the High Court, should have the right to move the Supreme Court without any hassle or legal impediment. While the Supreme Court grants the right to appeal in relatively milder and ordinary cases, there is no provision for such rights to be exercised in the context of capital punishment. I believe that this right to appeal in the Apex Court should be natural and drawn from the Constitution itself. This implies that the exercise of this right should not be subjected to the approval or disapproval of the Supreme Court. In the question of life and death, the right to appeal to the Supreme Court should be unrestricted. For this, through this Bill, I propose to amend the Constitution to extend the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to all death penalty cases,” a press note released by Mr. Kumar said.

Article 134 of the Constitution of India, 1950 provides for an appeal to the Supreme Court from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court if (a) it has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or (b) has withdrawn for trial before itself, any case from any Court subordinate to it and has in such trial convicted the accused and sentenced him to death or (c) it certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

Hence, there is, at present, no right of appeal to a death sentence if the accused was concurrently convicted by the courts below. The accused has to only try his chances by invoking the discretionary power of the Supreme Court under Article 136, which allows the Court to dismiss such death sentence cases in limine, i.e. without admitting it for a hearing on merits, or without recording reasons for such dismissal.

The press note then refers to two reports- one submitted by the Death Penalty India Report by National Law University, Delhi, and the other titled report entitled ‘Lethal Lottery’ prepared by Amnesty International and People’s Union for Civil Liberties, to support its contention that several Special Leave Petitions have been dismissed by the Supreme Court in limine.

It further makes reference to the 187th Law Commission Report on Mode of Execution of Death Sentence and Incidental Matters, and the 262nd Law Commission Report on the Death Penalty, which had recommended a statutory right to appeal before the Supreme Court in all death sentence matters. The Bill, therefore, seeks to expand the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, providing mandatory appeals when death sentences are confirmed, and when sentences are enhanced to the death penalty by High Courts.

It is interesting to note that a similar Bill was introduced by Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee in April, 1987. It was however withdrawn on the assurance of its consideration by the then Minister of Law, Mr. H.R. Bharadwaj. The Bill, however, never saw the light of the day. 30 years later, it has now been introduced as a Private Member Bill by Mr. Kumar.

Source: LiveLaw.in, Apoorva Mandhani, March 11, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Texas executes Juan Castillo

Mary Jane Veloso: The woman the firing squad left behind

Five executed in Iran, two hanged in public

Collection of items from the career of Britain's most famous executioner discovered

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson