Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) welcomed the commutation of death sentence of four death-row convicts Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh by President Pranab Mukherjee. They were convicted in a case of massacre at Bara in Bihar on 13 February 1993. This was first reported in Millennium Post on 14 January, this year.
The Bihar government and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had recommended rejection of mercy petitions of Krishna Mochi and others. However, President Pranab Mukherjee set aside the recommendations of the MHA and the Bihar government in the light of recommendations made by National Human Rights Commission acting on a complaint filed by ACHR for commutation of death sentence on the ground of inordinate delay. "That the President of India commuted the death sentence in the light of the recommendations made by the NHRC establishes one more layer of protection to the death-row convicts," stated Asian Centre for Human Rights.
On 8 June, 2001, the Sessions Judge, Gaya-cum-Designated Court under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987, found Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh alias Dharu Singh guilty and awarded the death sentence.
On 15 April, 2002, the Supreme Court confirmed their death sentence though Justice M B Shah had dissented against the award of death sentence. Following the confirmation of the death sentence, these death-row convicts filed mercy petitions with the President in 2003 and the prison authorities of Bihar forwarded their mercy petitions to the President of India on 3 March, 2003. However, their mercy petitions were lost. On 6 February, 2014, ACHR filed a complaint with the NHRC against the refusal and failure to consider the mercy petitions. The NHRC issued notices to the MHA and the Bihar government to submit their replies.
After perusing the replies of the MHA and the Bihar government, the NHRC recommended commutation of the death sentence. "From a careful analysis of the facts and materials placed before the commission, it emerges that the four convicts in question had submitted their mercy petitions prior to 7 July, 2004," NHRC said. But according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Secretariat of the President, the mercy petitions had not reached the Ministry of Home Affairs, or the Secretariat of the President.
The fact remains that the mercy petitions submitted by the four convicts prior to 7 July, 2014, were not considered by the competent authority even after 12 years.