That set me thinking... I realised we have had long list of terror convicts whose conviction has not been executed yet. Reason – all are waiting for the hearing on their mercy petition. At the last count some 30 mercy petitions were pending with the President and with the Government of India.
What is a mercy petition?
To put it briefly, Indian Law under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution permits convicted persons to plea for clemency to President and Governors of the State. In short, it is the right of a convict to plea and a duty of the President and Governors to duly consider the petitions and take action on them expeditiously.
Where do we stand today? What is the actual status?
- Khalistan militant Devendar Singh Bhullar, was awarded capital punishment for his involvement in bomb explosion in Delhi in 1992. After eight long years the President recently rejected his mercy petition. Now Bhullar has approached the Supreme Court for reducing his death sentence into life imprisonment on the grounds of inordinate delay in deciding on his mercy petition!
- The mercy petition of Afzal Guru, facing death sentence in the Indian Parliament attack case in 2001, is pending with the President since 2005.
- The President is yet to decide the clemency petition of the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi was killed on May 21, 1991
- Ajmal Kasab — the lone surviving terrorist in the Mumbai 26/11 attack who was sentenced to death too has filed a mercy petition
For God"s Sake, why on earth would it take so long to decide on mercy petitions? Is it because of the fundamental value system ingrained in us that we do not have the right to end anyone"s life? Or is our President too busy to look into such matters?
Recently I read a news report that the Supreme Court has asked the Union Government to fix a time frame for disposal of mercy petitions filed by those facing death sentences. Yes, it"s high time.
Death sentences have always attracted the human angle and view of no one has the right to take anothers life immaterial of how grave the crime. Capital punishment is not the answer. Some have even argued, protracted delay in hearing mercy petition means one is constantly giving the convict hope and despair and mental agony which is not the right thing a civil society should do.
What do you do when some people in a civil society behave in the most uncivilised manner? Terror attacks are the most inhuman and uncivilized of crimes. What right does one have to play with innocent lives? If we say capital punishment is not the answer because we don"t have a right to pronounce death sentence on a convict, how is it that anyone can kill innocent lives?
The Government needs to seriously think of who should plead for mercy... Why should a fanatic like Ajmal Kasab be showed any leniency. Committing a crime and regretting it later cannot undo the damage and pain inflicted on people. To prevent such ghastly incidents recurring again and again would it not be better not to allow such convicts from pleading for mercy. Why should perpetrators and culprits of terror have access to clemency at all?
Today all the above convicts waiting for clemency are in Indian jails and being looked after by the Government using tax payer"s money. Not only do these convicts inflict pain on us by committing the terror act, they also drain the exchequer with their protection and maintenance behind bars. What an unfair deal! This is not the way things would have happened in our neighbouring state had Indians master minded a terror attack in that country. It is time for a re-think on mercy petitions... For God"s* sake let"s do it.
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