I am against death penalty: Kalam

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New Delhi, Oct 31 (UNI) In a startling disclosure, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam has said he never received the government's views on the mercy plea of Afzal Guru, death-row convict in the Parliament attack case, till he demitted office as President.

''As far as the Afzal case is concerned, it had not come to me.

As long as I was President, it had not come to me. That question therefore does not arise,'' Dr Kalam said in an interview to TIMES NOW news channel, which will air it on Saturday.

The former President made the statement in response to a question about his reported indecision on the clemency petition.

Asked where he stood on the issue at a personal level, Dr Kalam for the first time went public with his anti-death penalty views, making it clear that he was against the provision.

''Definitely, on the death penalty, I have a personal opinion, And that is that it (the death penalty) needs a debate in Parliament. That is all that I can say,'' the channel said in a press note, quoting the missile man.

Dr Kalam was emphatic also on the other big controversy of his time, the Office of Profit Bill.

The idea of returning the Bill, he admitted, was to send a message back to parliament on how firmly opposed he was at a personal level to the Bill, aware that being the first President to do so would not go unnoticed.

''Yes, I sent a message,'' he said in response to a query why he sent the bill back to Parliament.

''I also wrote a letter saying why I am sending it back. Then they formed a team to evolve the principles. I am aware that this was a first in the history of the Parliamentary system. I knew that this was the first time ever. That is why I returned the Office of Profit Bill back to the parliament with a note. That I had to do.

And I have done that.'' Normally, mercy petitions received by the President are referred to the Home Ministry which returns them to Rashtrapati Bhavan with its views and recommendations. The President takes his decision on such pleas, based on the recommendations.

UNI

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