Supreme Court's notice to Centre regarding death penalty for false evidence against SC/ST citizens
“This section mandates mandatory death penalty without the exercise of judicial discretion", highlighted a plea challenging this provision in the SC/ST Act of 1989
The Supreme Court on Friday, 3 November, agreed to examine a plea challenging a provision of the SC/ST Act that mandates the compulsory punishment of a death penalty for bearing false evidence against any citizen of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST).
A bench headed by chief justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and including justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra issued a notice to the Centre and sought the government's response to the plea challenging the 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 for a person who gives or fabricates false evidence against an innocent SC/ST citizen that leads their being 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.
The plea added that the mandatory death penalty is in direct contravention of the judgements delivered by the Supreme Court in the cases of Mithu vs State of Punjab and State of Punjab vs Dalbir Singh.
Therefore, the plea called for this section, which provides no alternatives, to be declared as 'unconstitutional' for infringing on the guarantee contained in Article 21 of the Constitution of India.