Life convict Ashiq Hussain Faktoo’s prayer of hearing review petition in an open court, dismissed

Supreme Court: Rejecting the prayer of release of the petitioner who was convicted under under Section 3 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA Act) and under Section 302 read with Section 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860, the 3-Judge Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, Prafulla C. Pant and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ held that merely because in the comprehension of the writ petitioner the judgment of this Court is erroneous, would not enable the Court to reopen the issue in departure to the established and settled norms and parameters of the extent of permissible exercise of jurisdiction as well as the procedural law governing such exercise.

Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the writ petitioner, had that the sole basis of the conviction of the writ petitioner is the alleged confession made by him and that the same is not a confession in law inasmuch as nowhere in the said statement the accused implicates himself with the alleged offence(s) in any manner. Neither the confession has been put to the accused in the course of his examination under the provisions of Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, nor there is any corroboration to the alleged confession. He hence, sought for the hearing of the review petition in an open court based on the principle of ex debito justitiae. The Court rejected the said prayer and held that the open Court hearing of the review petition as sought by the life convict in the case at hand is available as of right only in death sentence cases.

Regarding the principle of ex debito justitiae invoked on behalf of the accused writ petitioner to attract the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India to set the accused writ petitioner at liberty, the Court said that the doctrine of ex debito justitiae would prevail over procedural law but would be applicable only in a situation where the order of this Court had been passed without notice or where the order has the effect of eroding the public confidence in the justice delivery system. Frantic cries of injustice founded on perceived erroneous application of law or appreciation of facts will certainly not be enough to extend the frontiers of this jurisdiction. [Ashiq Hussain Faktoo v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 884, decided on August 30, 2016]

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