President Pranab Mukherjee May Turn Down 5 More Mercy Pleas

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Union homeministry is learnt to have recommendedrejection of mercy petitions in five morecases as it seeks to speedily dispose of allthe cases of death row convicts pendingwith it.Seeking to have a swift closure on thecases of those who have filed mercy pleasagainst capital punishment awarded tothem, the ministry has sent all the pendingfiles to President Pranab Mukherjee for afinal call.Sources said that seven cases involvingthe fate of nine people have been sent to thePresident, with the ministryrecommending rejection of the mercy pleasin five cases. It has and left the tworemaining ones open for commutation ofdeath sentence to life imprisonment withthe rider that the life term means jail forthe entire life of the convict and not just 20years or 14 years in prison.

The President had sent the files to Unionhome minister Sushilkumar Shinde onOctober 30 for his review and opinion.Shinde sent the files back within 100 daysin a major shift from the pattern wheredecisions on mercy petitions wereindefinitely delayed with files shuttlingbetween the home ministry and theRashtrapati Bhavan.Though the case-wise recommendationsfor convicts were not known as both thehome ministry and Rashtrapati Bhavancontinue to remain tightlipped on mercypetition files, the seven cases relate tomultiple murders, including one in which arape convict out on bail killed five membersof the victim’s family.

While two files were sent to RashtrapatiBhavan on February 9 (the day ParliamentHouse attack case convict Afzal Guru washanged), the remaining five files weredispatched last month.The mercy files, which have beenpending for years while moving to and frobetween Rashtrapati Bhavan and the homeministry, saw unprecedented movement oflate, resulting in two quick hangings(Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru) within lessthan three months. Mukherjee had rejectedthe mercy plea of Kasab on November 5,and Guru on February 3.The files, which are now with PresidentMukherjee, include the longest pendingcase of Gurmeet Singh of Uttar Pradesh,who was convicted for killing 13 membersof a family on August 17, 1986.

The otherscases are of Suresh and Ramji, also fromUP, who were convicted for killing fivemembers of their brother’s family andDharampal from Haryana, who hadmurdered five members of the family of agirl he had raped in 1993. He had murderedthe family while on bail in the rape case.The other cases are of Sonia, daughter ofa former Haryana MLA, and her husbandSanjeev, who drugged and killed eight ofher family in Hisar in 2001, including herparents. Sunder Singh from Uttarakhand isconvicted for rape and murder on June 30,1989, Jafar Ali from Uttar Pradesh who wasconvicted for killing wife and five daughterin 2002 and Praveen Kumar of Karnataka,convicted for killing four members of afamily on February 23, 1994.

Mukherjee has so far disposed of mercypetitions of eight death row convicts in fivecases.The President has also rejected themercy petitions of Saibanna NingappaNatikar (Karnataka: convicted for killingwife and daughter) and mercy petitions ofslain forest brigand Veerappan’s associatesGnanaprakash, Simon, ‘Meesai’ Madaianand Pilavendran, who were sentenced todeath for killing 22 police personnel in 1993.However, the mercy petition of Atbir(Delhi), who was convicted for murder ofhis step-mother, step-sister and step-brotherover property, was commuted to lifeimprisonment by the President.

Strained mercy:
1,455 persons awarded death penaltyin India from 2001 to 2011Sentences for 4,321 persons werecommuted from death penalty to lifeimprisonment during the same period.Highest number of death penalty wasimposed in Uttar Pradesh (370)followed by Bihar (132), Maharashtra(125), Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (95each), Madhya Pradesh (87),Jharkhand (81), West Bengal (79),Delhi (71), Gujarat (57), Rajasthan (38),Kerala (34), Odisha (33), Haryana (31),Assam (21), Jammu & Kashmir (20),Punjab (19), Chhattisgarh (18),Uttarakhand (16), Andhra Pradesh (8),Meghalaya (6), Chandigarh and Daman& Diu (4 each), Manipur and HimachalPradesh (3 each), Tripura andPondicherry (2 each) and Goa (1)No death penalty imposed inArunachal Pradesh, Mizoram,Nagaland and Sikkim and UnionTerritories of Andaman & NicobarIslands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli andLakshadweepSentences of 4,321 persons werecommuted from death penalty to lifeimprisonment in the country during2001-11.

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