Yakub's mercy plea: A matter of life and death; How will the President react?

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He has to consider all the angles in the case and then decide. Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President can grant him pardon, suspend or commute a sentence of death or change the penalty to life imprisonment.

However, he does not act on his own and is advised by a council of ministers, which too has been clearly mentioned in the Constitution.

Yakub Memon

Once the sentencing has been done by the Supreme Court, even a foreign national can send a mercy petition requesting the government to hold the death sentence.

A mercy plea can also be sent to the governor of the state concerned who then forward it to the MHA.

Apart from this, the convict can also file a mercy plea from the jail through his family, lawyer or can even email it to the MHA.

Just a few years ago, the Union Ministry of Law told the MHA that the President's power to grant pardon, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment under Article 72 was "absolute and cannot be fettered by any statutory provisions" under the Code of Criminal Procedure or prison rules.

[Read: Yakub Memon, a double post graduate, may not be alive to receive his political science degree]

The president also exercises the power of commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment, which means the convict is to stay in jail for the rest of his life till natural death.

Yakub has 50-50 chances

While the fate of Yakub solely depends on the last moment decision of the President, MHA data till date is rather discouraging.

It shows that Presidents, barring Narayanan and Pratibha Patil, have shown little mercy in the appeals. According to the information released by the government under the RTI Act, out of the 77 mercy pleas decided by the Presidents between 1991 and 2010, 69 were rejected.

While R Venkatraman (1987- 1992) rejected them mercilessly, former Presisent Partibha Patil was the most generous of them all. During her tenure from 2007-2012, she spared several serial murderers.

Several Presidents have also been alleged of religious favouritism or political considerations while judging a mercy plea.

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