The Supreme Court on Monday referred a suo motu petition to a five-judge Constitution bench for instructions on how and when relevant mitigating factors should be examined by courts during trial in cases involving the death penalty as the highest punishment.
The bench, led by Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit, held that it is imperative for the top court to come up with an authoritative decision on various aspects of sentencing in cases where the death penalty is a choice of punishment.
While hearing pleas, the Supreme Court on Monday referred to a five-judge Constitution bench in a suo motu case concerning the framing of uniform guidelines for the trial courts on granting "real and meaningful opportunity" on the issue of the sentence to the convicts held guilty for offences entailing capital punishment.
The order issued regarding the granting of death sentences to convicts has been necessitated due to a difference of opinion and approach amongst various judgements, on the question of whether, after recording a conviction for a capital offence, under law, the court is obligated to conduct a separate hearing on the issue of sentence.
It noted the differences of opinion reflected through some three-judge bench decisions on the time required to be given to a convict for bringing on record the mitigating circumstances before the punishment is pronounced.