Hyderabad: Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju on Saturday appealed to Andhra Pradesh government to release Abdul Qadeer, a former police constable who is in jail for last 22 years for gunning down a police officer.
Katju submitted a letter to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy urging him to pardon the 51-year-old former constable on humanitarian grounds. Katju pointed out that Abdul Qadeer has already spent 22 years in jail and one of his legs was amputated due to diabetes.
"He committed a heinous crime. No doubt about it. He deserved harsh punishment and he got it. Twenty-two years have passed. His one leg has been amputated. When he committed the crime, he was young. Now he has turned old. Have some mercy on him," Katju told the chief minister at a Urdu conference in Hyderabad.
The former Supreme Court judge reminded the chief minister of Shakespeare's famous statement that justice should be tempered with mercy. "If you have mercy on him, your prestige will go sky high," Katju told Kiran Kumar Reddy.
It was during communal riots in December 1990 in Hyderabad that Abdul Qadeer, then a 29-year-old constable, shot dead Assistant Commissioner of Police N Satya. Two years later, a court sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Katju also told the gathering that he recently launched in Delhi a "court of last resort" to free people languishing in jails for several years. The NGO is headed by eminent lawyer Fali Nariman.
Katju said the organization would have units in states. It will study cases of those who were implicated in false cases and other undertrials. "There are many people from minorities. We will study their cases and help them," he said.
He cited a case of a youth named Amir was arrested when he was just 17 but 14 years later he was found innocent.
"This is not happening only with Muslims. There should be no repression whether they are Muslims or Hindus," he said.
Katju said he spoke to Zahid Ali Khan, editor of urdu daily Siasat, for opening a unit of the court of last resort in Andhra Pradesh. He said the organisation require students, lawyers, media persons, academicians and other professionals, who can work as volunteers.