SC seeks Centre's response on death by hanging

Harish Salve

Harish Salve

The Collegium resolution involves making public reasons for rejection of a high court judge as chief justice of a high court or a high court chief justice to the Supreme Court. It had led to demands for more transparency in the working of the Collegium system which came into existence following the 1993 decision of a nine-judge Constitution Bench in the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association vs Union of India, more popularly known as the Second Judges Case.

The Supreme Court Collegium, seeking to bring in transparency to its proceedings, has decided to make public all its recommendations on the appointment, confirmation, transfer and elevation of judges. These decisions will now be uploaded on the SC's website.

The top court has posted detailed reasons for its October 3, 2017 recommendation for judicial appointments to the Madras High Court and the Kerala High Court.

Details are now available online under the tag "Collegium Resolutions".

The Supreme Court of India on Friday announced that for the sake of transparency, judges the process of appointing or transferring judges will now be open to public.

The Supreme Court's decision in favour of full disclosure follows a controversy over a judge resigning after being passed over for elevation recently.

"The Resolution is passed to ensure transparency and yet maintain confidentiality in the Collegium system", the resolution, adopted on October 3, said.

In 2015, parliament cleared a National Judicial Appointments Commission which would include the Law Minister and two eminent persons selected by a separate panel including the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition. However, this could pave the way for true transparency in a system of appointment whose very principle can be questioned as judges chose that they would themselves choose who would become members of the highest judiciary. The Supreme Court said it was conscious that it had earlier upheld the validity of carrying out the death sentence by hanging.

The next day, Griffen issued an order halting the execution of nine inmates in a case brought by a drug manufacturer, which asked for the move because it said its drug was never meant to be used in capital punishment.

Petitioner-lawyer Rishi Malhotra sought a court order to declare Section 354 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) - which provides for execution by hanging - ultra vires of the Constitution, contending that the method given therein was unconstitutional, painful, and not a dignified way to end (human) life.

During the hearing Justice D Y Chandrachud who is part of the bench said 'shooting was associated with authoritarian regimes while intravenous lethal injection mode was severely criticised in the US.

He also said that "in his personal life and his capacity as a pastor", he has expressed his personal religious and moral views on the death penalty, and that he has participated in prayer vigils as a means of exercising his religious expression.

He said the right to life with dignity also included right to death with dignity, without pain and suffering.