Decided on January 20,1982



Chandrachud, C. J. - (1.) The question as regards the scope of the power of the President under Art. 72 of the Constitution to commute a sentence of death into a lesser sentence may have to await examination on an appropriate occasion. This clearly to not that occasion because in so far as this case is concerned, whatever be the guidelines observed for the exercise of the power conferred by Art. 72, the only sentence which can possibly be imposed upon the petitioner is that of death and no circumstances exist for interference with that sentence. Therefore we see no justification for saying that in refusing to commute the sentence of death imposed upon the petitioner into a lesser sentence, the President has in any manner transgressed his discretionary power under Art. 72. Undoubtedly, the President has the power in an appropriate case to commute any sentence imposed by a court into a lesser sentence and as said by Chief Justice Taft in James Shewan and Sons v. United States, (1924) 69 Lawed 527 at page No. 535, the "executive clemency exists to afford relief from undue harshness or evident mistake in the operation or enforcement of the criminal law" and that the administration of justice by the courts is not necessarily or certainly considerate of circumstances which may properly mitigate guilt. But the question as to whether the case is appropriate for the exercise of the power conferred by Art. 72 depends upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case. The necessity or the justification for exercising that power has therefore to be judged from case to case. In fact, we do not see what useful purpose will be achieved by the petitioner by ensuring the imposition of any severe, judicially evolved constraints on the wholesome power of the President to use it as the justice of a case may require. After all, the power conferred by Art. 72 can be used only for the purpose of reducing the sentence, not for enhancing it. We need not, however, go into that question elaborately because in so far a this case is concerned, we are quite clear that not even the most liberal use of his mercy jurisdiction could have persuade the President to interfere with the sentence of death imposed upon the petitioner, in view particularly of the considerations mentioned by us in our judgment in Kuljeet Singh alias Ranga v. Union of India, (1981) 3 SCR 512. We may recall what we said in that judgment that "the death the Chopra children was caused by the petitioner and his companion Billa after a savage planning which bears a professional stamp", that the "survival of an orderly society demands the extinction of the life of persons like Ranga and Billa who are a menace to social order and security", and that "they are professional murderers and deserve no sympathy even in terms of the evolving standards of decency of a mature society."
(2.) The petition is accordingly dismissed.
(3.) We have heard Shri R. K. Jain as amicus on behalf of the accused Billa. We see no substance in Shri Jain's contentions also.;

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