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ACHR hails President's commutation of death row convicts' sentences

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) on Tuesday welcomed the commutation of death sentence of five death row convicts- Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan, Dharmendra Singh and Dharu Singh by President Pranab Mukherjee. All of them were convicted in the Bara massacre case of February 13, 1993 in Bihar. Millennium Post was the first to report this on January 14, 2017.

The Bihar government and the Ministry of Home Affairs had recommended rejection of mercy petitions of the convicted. However, Mukherjee brushing aside the recommendations of the MHA and Bihar government in the light of the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission acting on a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights for commutation of death sentence on the ground of inordinate delay.

"The President has commuted the death sentence in the light of the recommendations made by the NHRC and this establishes one more layer of protection to the death row-convicts," stated ACHR.
Sources in Rashtrapati Bhavan refused to comment on the claim made by AHRC. On the contrary, the sources close to the President said that Mukherjee went
by legal advice.

On 8 June 2001, the Sessions Judge, Gaya-cum-Designated Court under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 after finding Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh alias Dharu Singh guilty awarded death sentences. On 15 April 2002, the Supreme Court confirmed the punishment though Justice M B Shah had dissented against the judgment. Following this, these convicts filed mercy petitions with the President in 2003 which was forwarded by the Bihar government to Mukherjee on March 3, 2003. However, their petitions were given a deaf ear.

On February 6, 2014, ACHR had filed a complaint with the NHRC against the refusal to consider the mercy petitions filed by the convicts who are currently lodged in District Jail, Bhagalpur. The NHRC issued notices to the MHA and the Bihar government to submit their replies.

Following this, NHRC in its substantive had recommended commutation of the death sentence.
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