Don’t hang the convicts hurriedly and secretly, says Supreme Court

Supreme Court on in its recent judgment said that the execution of death sentence cannot be carried out in a hurried and secret manner. A bench of justices AK Sikri and UU Lalit of the Apex Court observed that proper procedure must be followed by Government authorities and execution cannot be done till the convict exhausts all remedy available to him to save his life.

Supreme Court, while quashing the execution warrants of a young woman and her lover, convicted for killing seven members of her family including a 10-month-old baby in Uttar Pradesh in 2008, noting that it was issued “in haste” by giving a go-by to mandatory guidelines.

Holding that, the death convicts cannot be denied fundamental right to life, observed that Government cannot hang condemned prisoners without giving him prior notice and allowing him to meet family members.

“Right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution does not end with the confirmation of the death sentence. The basis to the right to dignity also extends to the death row convicts. Therefore, the sentence of death has to be executed with total dignity.

“That is why there are many judgments mandating the manner in which the death sentence has to be executed,” the bench said and added that “therefore the procedure prescribed by the Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court for execution of death sentence is in consonance with Article 21”.

Apex court further observed that right to life does not end with the confirmation of the death sentence observing that the basis to the right to dignity also extends to the death row convicts. In the given case Apex Court observed that the death warrant was signed by the Sessions Judge in haste without waiting for the convicts to exhaust the available legal remedies.

Right to Live Includes Right to Have Good Food

Ipsita Mishra

Supreme Court has said that the right to life and dignity also includes right to have good food free from harmful pesticides and insecticides, antibiotic residues, etc. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India have been asked to conduct surprise inspections of major vegetable and fruits markets. State has a duty to achieve an appropriate level of health and protection of human life. Food article that is harmful to health is against Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act along with its rules and regulations is sufficient to deal with the grievances and hence an independent technical panel is not required to evaluate the harmful effects on human health. The enforcement by the authorities functioning under these legislations is the only issue. The provisions of the FSS and PFA Acts etc should be interpreted and applied in the light of the constitutional principles. Many food articles contain insecticides or pesticides residues beyond tolerable limits. Children are susceptible to the effects of pesticides because of their physiological immaturity and greater exposure to soft drinks and junks etc. The misleading advertisements targeting the children should be controlled.

The Right to Food Campaign is an attempt to realize the aspirations and guarantees enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Article 3.1 of the Human Rights declaration states that the states have the primary responsibility for the creation of national and international conditions favorable to the realization of the right to development. Article 8.1 further provides equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income. Further, Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees a fundamental right to life which includes the right to health and its determining factors, including food.

Further Reading

Right to Life: Reshaped Again

Aastha Mehta, Student of Law, GNLU, Gandhinagar

Supreme Court has again taken favored stand for the citizens of the country, by criticizing the Government for not having any framework of rules for clinical trials in India. In a PIL filed by NGO Swasthya Adhikar Manch, the apex Court has directed the government that no clinical trials of untested drugs usually tested on volunteers and patients will be conducted till regulatory legislation or set of rules are in place. The direction has come as shock for pharmaceutical multinational companies however the Court said that lives of the citizens of this country cannot be played with.

The act in question was Drugs and Cosmetics Act, as amended on 2008, which is piecemeal legislation when it comes to use of medicines, antibiotics along with sale and licensing of such drugs and cosmetics. The Additional Solicitor General had argued in the instant case that Union Ministry for Health is considering some serious changes in the Act to make sure that clinical trials are covered within the ambit of this Act, by making a separate chapter on this topic. However the underlying point in the said order of SC shows how concerned and obliged the courts in our country feel when it comes to the question of human life. On seeing the statistics filed by the Centre in their affidavit the Centre admitted to the fact that 2,644 people died during clinical trials of 475 new drugs from the period 2005 to 2012. Though the government kept on saving itself by showing the court various notifications whereby they showed that the proposed amendments also had envisaged process of carrying inspections of clinical trials by setting up an authority especially for the purpose along with a mechanism in place to analyze the reports of Serious Adverse Events happening due to unregulated clinical trials of new medicines on people. But the court turned a deaf ear to all the contingent regulations and specifically banned 162 trials being undertaken by the government till something concrete was done.

Right to Life as enshrined in Article 21 of Indian Constitution has its shadow in this order, and which has made the Court take the morally correct stand, since the it would have been easy for courts to give in to the pressures of big companies which have vested interest in not having any mechanism to keep clinical trials in check. But court has been firm in pronouncing down from the very first, that Article 21 is a wide enough to cover all aspects which will ensure that a human beings live their life with dignity and respect. In future, it is left to be seen how such protective and pro-justice attitude of the apex court translates from mere copy of judgment to real ground practice.

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