Madurai: A law student’s PIL has prompted the Mardas High Court to sit up. The Madras High Court has issued notice to the Union law secretary and the secretary of the social justice and empowerment ministry on a PIL, urging for a section of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), providing for a “mandatory death penalty”, to be declared as null and void.
The petitioner, Shazim Sagar, a law student, alleged that section 3(2)(I) of the said act, providing for the punishment, was violative of the Constitution.
The petitioner submitted that the section provided for the punishment if any person, not being a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community, gave or fabricated false evidence, with an intention to cause a member of the SC/ST community to be convicted for an offence, resulting in the imposition of capital punishment.
The section added that if such a person was executed on account of the false evidence, the person responsible for the same should also be punished with death, the petitioner said, adding that the provision was “discriminatory”.
A mandatory death punishment had been held to be opposed to human dignity and struck down by constitutional courts across the world, the petitioner said and prayed that the section be declared as null and void.
Justices K K Sasidharan and G R Swaminathan of the Madurai bench of the court, after hearing the arguments of the petitioner, ordered issue of notice to the Union law secretary and the secretary of the social justice and empowerment ministry.