Legal Reasoning for CLAT, Passage- Death row convicts

Monday, April 19th, 2021

It is strange that the government wants the Supreme Court to frame a rule imposing a
seven-day limit on the time that convicts have to file a mercy petition after a death warrant is issued. And that courts, governments and prison authorities should all be mandated to issue death warrants within seven days of the rejection of mercy petitions and to carry out the sentence within seven days thereafter. On the need for a time limit for filing curative petitions, the government is right in believing that the absence of such a stipulation gives scope for convicts in the same case to take turns to file such petitions. However, there is no sign that the apex court delays disposal of curative petitions. If and when one is filed, it results in no more than a few days’ delay. In a country that unfortunately retains the death penalty, there is no excuse for delaying the disposal of any petition, either in court, or before constitutional functionaries. Nor is there any need to expedite executions by revisiting sound guidelines. As the death penalty is limited to the “rarest of rare” cases, nothing is lost if those facing execution are allowed to exhaust all possible remedies.


1. Instigating a person to cause death and all the results of instigation amounts to murder. A man was chasing his wife with a stick intending to hit her and threatening to kill her. She in a hurry jumped out of a window and died as a result. Can the man be held liable for the death of the woman?

(a) The intention to actually cause the death of the woman cannot be attributed to the man.
(b) The man did not have knowledge of the fact that the woman would jump out of the window and as a result die. He cannot be held liable.
(c) The man should be held liable for her murder, because of his instigation.
(d) It is a case of suicide and not murder.


2. Unexplained/unreasonable/inordinate delay in disposal of mercy petition is one of the circumstances for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment. Aastha, wife of Naman, filed the present Curative Petition, wherein she prayed for setting aside the death sentence imposed upon Naman by commuting the same to imprisonment for life on the ground of delay of 8 years in disposal of mercy petition. Will Aastha’s challenge succeed?

(a) No, since 8 years cannot be considered as the circumstances for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment.
(b) Yes, since 8 years can be considered as a violation of the dignity and right to life.
(c) No, since Aastha has the statutory right to file the Curative Petition.
(d) Yes, since there was strong and sufficient ground of unexplained/inordinate delay of 8 years in disposal of mercy petition.


3. A curative petition is lodged on a grave error of law to undo a blatant error of law or its application. Sundar was convicted of murder. He was convicted by Sessions court. He appealed to the High Court but all evidence was against him so he lost in High Court. He appealed in Supreme Court but lost again due to lack of evidence. Now he wished to lodge a curative petition because he thinks the Supreme Court did not think properly on his matter. If Sundar challenges this decision, based only on the information set out in the given passage and in this question, will he succeed?

(a) Sundar can file a curative petition.
(b) Sundar can file a curative petition before the President of India.
(c) Sundar cannot file curative petition as his conviction is in a case of murder.
(d) Sundar cannot file a curative petition as there is no mistake of law.


4. All citizens shall have the right of freedom to practice any profession. A restriction which destroys the very right to freedom guaranteed under the constitution shall be considered an unreasonable restriction. Death trials have always been considered to be dehumanising as it often causes grave mental harassment to the accused. Parliament in order to prevent such harassment passed a law banning lawyers to be part of Death trials. If lawyers challenge this decision, based only on the information set out in the given passage and in this question, are the restrictions justified?

(a) Restriction is justified as it is in interest of public morality and decency.
(b) Restriction is justified as it is for the benefit of the accused group, as they are also human beings.
(c) Restriction is unreasonable as it defiles the very freedom to practice.
(d) Restriction is invalid as it discriminates between the accused who got death penalty and who got live imprisonment.


5. No man shall be deemed as a criminal until and unless proved beyond reasonable doubt. Ahem, a famous fashion designer was found murdered and the circumstantial evidence strongly pointed out towards Amisha. A vicious propaganda was launched against her, by certain media houses deeming him to be a murderer and a psychopath. Judgment delivered holding her guilty. If Amisha files a curative petition challenging the judgment being influenced by these acts of the media houses, will she succeed?

(a) Yes, because the media houses were targeting her unnecessarily.
(b) No, because whatever they were saying was probably true.
(c) No, because the media has a right to enlighten people about events happening around the world.
(d) Yes, because until and unless, her guilt was proved before a competent court of law, she could not be deemed to be the culprit.









1. Ans. (c)The man has necessitated the woman to act in this manner, and his threatening has caused her to jump from the window. Therefore, he should be held liable for her murder due to instigation. Therefore, only sound choice is option (c).


2. Ans. (d)There was an unexplained delay of 8 years (which is a long time). Hence, option (d) is the correct answer. Option (b) and (c) are out of scope of the line of questioning.


3. Ans. (d)Sundar cannot file a curative petition as there is no mistake of law as the facts clearly state that he lost due to lack of evidence.


4. Ans. (c)This restriction is patently illegal as it violates the right of freedom to practice law and is unreasonable. In this case the parliament can impose restriction on death penalty as a punishment.


5. Ans. (d)