Millennium Post

Pranab rejects mercy petitions in five cases

Since the year 1981, when the Supreme Court laid down the rarest of rare case doctrine, the President of India has considered 112 mercy petitions by the convicts being handed out capital punishment by courts, out of which 83 petitions have been rejected by the first citizen of the country. In other words, 74 per cent of the mercy petitions have been rejected by various Presidents.

Various Presidents have commuted death to life imprisonment of 31 convicts in these 32 years. The Ministry of Home Affairs, in a Right to Information (RTI) reply has given the details of each case. Article 72 of the Constitution grants President the power to ‘grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases’.

President Pranab Mukherjee has just rejected the mercy petition of five death row-convicts while commuted two cases to the life imprisonment. He, after taking charge as the President, started it with rejecting the mercy petition of Pakistani terrorist Azmal Kasab and then took it forward by rejecting the case of Parliament Attack convict Afzal Guru whose hanging had become a political issue.

Mukherjee has also rejected the mercy petitions of Veerappan’s associates, earlier sentenced to death for killing 21 policemen in a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993, and mercy petitions of Saibanna Ningappa Natikar, convicted for the murder of his first wife and also his daughter.

He has perhaps cleared the maximum number of mercy petitions in a very short span of his tenure and currently no mercy petition is pending before him.

The Supreme Court had laid down rarest of rare case doctrine in the Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab case in 1981 after which death penalty is given only in rarest and rare cases. Before this, death penalty was given in many cases.
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