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The Supreme Court on Friday initiated a suo moto case to develop guidelines to be followed by courts across the country, while considering matters which involve death penalty.

A three-judge bench of Justices U.U. Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, and P.S. Narasimha sought assistance from Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, and also issued a notice to the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

The bench indicated that it would lay down guidelines to be followed by courts across the country in connection with cases involving death sentences. The bench noted that convicts are at a stage where the litigation assistance is bare minimum.

The Attorney General concurred with the bench that the system -- to deal with issues pertaining with death sentences -- needs to be institutionalised.

During the hearing, amicus curiae advocate K. Parameshwar cited a policy in Madhya Pradesh under which public prosecutors are given increment based on the number of sentences awarded in matters prosecuted by them. Senior advocate Siddharth Dave is also an amicus curiae in the matter.

The bench said this policy should be brought on record and scheduled the matter for further hearing on May 10.

Last month, the top court initiated suo moto proceedings for revamping the manner in which death sentences are handed down by the courts. It noted that the process should have more objectivity.

The top court registered the case to examine how the courts, which deal with death sentence matters, can develop a comprehensive analysis on the nature of the crime and the accused. It also pointed at the mitigating circumstances, which the concerned court can look into, while deciding whether a death sentence should be awarded or not.

The top court initiated the process after an application was filed by anti-death penalty body, Project 39A of National Law University, Delhi.

The application complained about alleged inadequacies in the existing system of preparation of reports by the probation officers and other officials from the jail administration.

The top court was hearing a plea by one Irfan challenging the trial court that awarded him death sentence, which was later confirmed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

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