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.
Presidential election 2007 has turned nasty. Pratibha Patilâ€™s record during emergency was dug up. Her comments about purdah created a controversy. Her role in the bankruptcy of a bank of which she was a founder and director, allegations of her brother being a murderer, her husband causing the suicide of a man, misuse of MPLADS fund made headlines.
Congress started to attack Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. The latest accusation against Shekhawat is that in 1942 when the country was following Quit India movement under the leadership of Gandhi Shekhawat joined police force. This is going back 65 years.
Before making this accusation Congress should have examined its track record. During World War II many Indian soldiers joined Indian National Army founded by Subhash Chandra Bose. Indian National Army surrendered in 1945. The soldiers were tried for treason and were acquitted but did not get back their jobs. After independence they were not taken back. This is how the Congress Government led by Jawaharlal Nehru treated freedom fighters.
Some say pati means husband and therefore woman president of India should be called rashtrapatni in Hindi. Little knowledge is dangerous. Pati has several meanings. It means hushand, owner or lord. There are words like bhupati, ashwapati, gajapati and prajapati. They do not mean husband of land, horses, elephants and people. Here the meaning is owner or lord.
India is not the first country to have a woman president. Iceland, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Philippines are some of the countries that had women presidents. They were referred to as rashtrapati in Hindi news bulletins. When Najma Heptullah was the Deputy Chairman (Constitution does not mention Chairperson) of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) she was referred to as Upa Sabhapati. It seems those who advocate the use of rashtrapatni never watched Hindi news bulletins.