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May 01, 2013 at 04:11pm IST

SC commutes death penalty of Assam murder convict MN Das

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of Assam murder convict Mahendra Nath Das to life sentence. MN Das was convicted in two murder cases in Assam in 1997. The court has commuted the death penalty on the grounds of delay in execution.

Mahendra Nath Das killed a man, Rajen Das, in Guwahati in 1990 and surrendered. On April 24, 1996, Mahendra Nath Das beheaded Harakanta Das at Fancy Bazaar in Guwahati while he was out on bail and surrendered with the victim's head. Das was sentenced to death in 1997. The penalty was confirmed by the Gauhati High Court in February 1998.

It remains to be seen if this can give ammunition to the supporters of Delhi blast convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who has been demanding life sentence for him on the same grounds. The Supreme Court had earlier declined to commute Bhullar's death sentence on the grounds of delay.

Human rights activists had been citing Mahendra Nath's case to seek a review of Bhullar's mercy plea. Das's mercy plea was reviewed twice, but rejected by the President.