Man who killed five daughters escapes gallows, for now

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday stayed the hanging of a Madhya Pradesh man who was convicted for killing his five minor daughters in 2010.

The death sentence of Magan Lal, scheduled to be executed in the morning in a jail in his state, was stayed for a day at a Wednesday mid-night hearing at the residence of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam on a petition by civil rights group Peoples Union for Democratic Rights.

At the mid-night hearing, the chief justice also directed that the matter be brought before the court Thursday.

When the plea came up for hearing Thursday, the bench of Chief Justice Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai stayed Magan Lal's execution till further orders.

PUDR told the court that it had April 6 stayed the execution of six death row convicts after their mercy petitions were rejected.

Magan Lal June 11, 2010 murdered his five daughters - Jamuna, 1, Leela, 3, Aarta, 4, Savita, 5, and Phool Kunwar, 6, - and attempted suicide, police said.

He was sentenced to death Feb 3, 2011 by the trial court and it was upheld by the Madhya Pradesh High court Sep 12, 2011. His plea against the high court order was rejected by the apex court Jan 9, 2012.

The civil rights body was also permitted to amend the petition to make Magan Lal or his family members as petitioners and submit additional documents.

Urging the court to stay the execution, PUDR alleged it was "an illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary procedure that has been followed in processing the mercy petition and scheduling the execution date of Magan Lal...."

The civil rights body sought appropriate remedies that would protect the fundamental rights of Magan Lal.

The civil rights body said that a large number of mercy petitions had been rejected by the president and execution dates were fixed in complete violation of the rule of law.

The petition said that the condemned convicts families were not being informed in time about the rejection of the mercy petitions, sufficient notice was not given of the date of execution to enable the death convicts to access judicial remedies available to them.

"It is well settled in law that executive action and the legal procedure adopted to deprive a person of his life or liberty have to be fair, just and reasonable," PUDR said in the petition.

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