After Guru's hanging, the President also turned down the mercy plea of four aides of slain forest brigand Veerappan. However, the home ministry continued to send him files of convicts. According to the report, the ministry sent Mukherjee 17 files after the clemency petition of Veerappan's aides were turned down and the ministry advised the President not to grant pardon to five of them. But the President was reportedly upset with this trend.
Sources said an angry President told his officials that it would not send a good message across if he continued to turn down mercy petitions. He, therefore, has decided to put a stop to the flow for the time being.
The current President has taken the opposite route of his predecessor in dealing with convicted criminals. While Pratibha Patil rejected just three cases of mercy petition during her entire stint at the Raisina Hills and advised to change death sentence into life imprisonment in 35 cases, her successor went on an overdrive of rejecting seven mercy petitions.
Political observers felt that the trend of hanging convicts which has started recently was putting the establishment under question in various quarters. The human rights have been targetting the government for opting for capital punishment when its justification is being debated across the globe.
It is also being said that the decision on the punishment of convicted criminals is being politicised. While at one time the government has shown excessive delay in taking a call on the issue, it has shown unnatural alacrity to execute the same convicts at other times.
President Mukherjee perhaps has understood that his prestigious position is also falling prey to the game of politicisation. He has hence sought a pause. A welcome move, no doubt.