New Delhi: The waiting list of death row mercy pleas has become shorter as President Pratibha Patil has rejected the mercy petitions of two murder convicts MN Das and Devender Bhullar.
Khalistani terrorist Bhullar was convicted for attacking Congress leader MS Bitta in 1993, leading to several deaths in Delhi.
It comes after the Supreme Court on Monday expressed surprise over the 8-year delay in the disposal of Bhullar's plea. All eyes are now on other petitions pending with the President, including that of Afzal Guru. He was sentenced to death for conspiring the 2001 attack on Parliament and is now on death row.
This is the first clearance of a death sentence since 2004. Dhananjay Chatterjee, convicted for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Kolkata was the last man to be executed, that was in 2004.
Seven years later, after much criticism from the Opposition that the government is going slow on taking a call on the mercy petition of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the President has rejected two appeals for clemency.
A date for hanging will now be set by the execution court for Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, convicted for the attack on the youth Congress office in 1993 and MN Das, who is guilty of murdering one Hara Kanta Das.
By one estimate, there are two dozen cases pending with the Rashtrapati Bhavan, but the question remains whether Afzal Guru's case will be expedited. The Home Ministry has been of the view that these cases should be taken up serial wise or in a chronological order, a view countered by the Law Minister while speaking in the context of expeditious justice in the case of Mumbai terrorist Ajmal Kasab.
Lawyer KTS Tulsi said, "If the government could decide the mercy petition within two days of the notice from the Supreme Court, it would now be virtually impossible for them to explain the long delay of eight years."
KTS Tulsi said that the whole mercy policy is flawed. "Why did they keep him on death roll which is for such a prolonged period, which is considered to be human rights violation and extreme cruelty on human being? It can't be that because he has approached the Supreme Court, therefore, his petition is taken out of the turn and rejected and others continue to be pending. The whole policy is flawed." he said.