SC issues notice to Centre on plea against provision of SC/ST Act mandating death penalty

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea challenging a provision of the SC/ST Act providing for the compulsory punishment of death penalty.

A bench headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra issued notice to the Centre and sought its response on the plea challenging constitutionality of section 3(2)(i) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The impugned provision of the Act provides only the punishment for death to the person who gives or fabricates false evidence for an innocent member of SC and ST and if such innocent member be convicted and executed in consequence of such false or fabricated evidence.

“This section mandates mandatory death penalty without the exercise of judicial discretion and therefore it needs to be struck down for being ultra vires the Constitution of India and the fundamental tenets of the Constitutional law, ” said the plea filed through advocate Jyotika Kalra.

It added that the mandatory death penalty goes directly in contravention of the judgments delivered by the Supreme Court in the cases of Mithu v. State of Punjab and State of Punjab v. Dalbir Singh and therefore, the impugned section mandatorily providing death penalty without any alternative to other forms of punishment be declared as unconstitutional for infringing the guarantee contained under Article 21 of the Constitution.