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Government asks president to reject Afzal mercy plea

Government asks president to reject Afzal mercy plea
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First Published: Wed, Aug 10 2011. 08 50 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Aug 10 2011. 08 50 PM IST
New Delhi: The Union home ministry has asked President Pratibha Patil to reject the mercy petition of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, six years after a plea was filed by his wife.
Minister of state for home Mullappally Ramachandran told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that Afzal’s case was submitted to the President’s secretariat on 27 July for a final decision.
He was responding to a question on why the government was not expediting the pending mercy petition of the death row convict.
Asked whether there is any provision under the Constitution for deciding upon any “clemency petition” against capital punishment, the minister said, “There is no Constitutional provision. It was an administrative decision to ensure fair and urgent treatment of all cases.”
The Supreme Court in 2004 had sent Guru to the gallows for hatching a conspiracy to attack Parliament on 13 December 2001. Afzal’s wife had then filed a mercy petition before the President, who then sent back the matter to the Union home ministry for its comments. Since the offence was committed in the national capital, the Union home ministry sent the file to the Delhi government for the latter’s views. The Delhi government cleared it after 16 reminders over four years from the home ministry.
In its reply last year, Delhi’s lieutenant governor Tejinder Khanna recommended that Afzal’s mercy plea be rejected and that he should be hanged.
The Union home ministry, in its detailed note explaining the nature of the crime and recommendations, has now requested the President to reject the mercy petition. There are at least 20 mercy petitions pending before the President from death row convicts before Afzal.
“The detailed note includes the judgements of the trial court, the Delhi high court, the Supreme Court and the Delhi lieutenant governor’s recommendations,” said a senior official, who declined to be named. The President’s spokesperson could not be immediately reached.
Meanwhile, the Congress has steered clear of questions on the early execution of Afzal Guru contending that it was not proper to react on mercy petition cases submitted to the President.
“The matter is with the President. Just like it is not proper to say anything on sub-judice cases, the same holds true with issues submitted to the President,” party spokesman Rashid Alvi told reporters.
PTI contributed to the story.
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First Published: Wed, Aug 10 2011. 08 50 PM IST