Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Mercy Petitions

Pratibha Patil, for almost two years after becoming the President of India, did nothing about pending mercy petitions. Now she will take up one mercy petition per month. There are about 26 mercy petitions pending. Most of them were legacy of her predecessors.

K. R. Narayanan did not decide on or reject any mercy petition. APJ Abdul Kalam rejected one mercy petition and I understand he commuted one death sentence to life imprisonment. Presidents should be made accountable for their acts of omission.

Death penalty is given in only rarest of rare cases. The murderers have lived for many years after the death of their victims. The trials take many years till the Supreme Court gives verdict. Perpetrators of Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar bombings in August 2003 were sentenced to death on 6/8/2009 by a Special POTA court. It will take many years when High Court and Supreme Court give their verdict.

Government of India must pass legislation that allows death penalty in all cases of murder, attempted murder, abduction, kidnapping and acid throwing. It must be made obligatory for the President to decide on mercy petition within 30 days from the days of its filing. The petition should go directly to the President and no need to consult Union or State government. If no decision is taken within 30 days the petition shall be deemed to be rejected and the convict shall be hanged within seven days.

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