A bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhyay said the Home Secretaries of all the states would send the records of all cases of mercy pleas to states within three days to the Centre, which would then place the same before it.
The court also made it clear that if records are not sent by the state governments, they would do so "at their own risk".
The bench added there have been cases where mercy pleas were decided after 11 years which is a sufficiently long time.
"From the date mercy petitions reach competent authority, what was done?," the bench asked the Centre, observing that in one case it took 11 years to decide the plea, in other it took eight years.
The court brushed aside the Centre's contention that delay was caused due to repeated petitions filed by condemned prisoners in courts.
"There is no bar in filing repeated petitions," the bench observed.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Punjab terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here in September 1993 on Raisina Road outside the Youth Congress office killing nine people.
Bhullar has been pleading that his capital punishment be commuted to life imprisonment as there has been an "inordinate" delay in deciding his mercy petition and he is not mentally sound. More
New Delhi: Expressing concern over delay by the Centre and state governments in deciding mercy pleas of prisoners on death row, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought from them the records of all such cases.
First Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 13:54