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Patil rejects mercy plea of 2 death row convicts
NEW DELHI, MAY 27 (Agencies):
Published on 27 May. 2011 11:28 PM IST
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The death row waiting list has shortened by two with President Pratibha Patil rejecting the mercy petitions of two convicts — Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar of Punjab and Mahender Nath Das of Assam — clearing the way for their execution.
Rashtrapati Bhawan sources confirmed that the President rejected Das’s plea last month while she denied Bhullar’s mercy plea on Wednesday. This is the first time after 2004 – when the BJP attacked the government for sitting on Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru’s mercy plea — that the President has given the nod for executions.
The rejection of Bhullar’s mercy plea comes after the Supreme Court on Monday expressed “surprise” over the eight-year delay in disposal of his plea.
Bhullar was sentenced to death by a trial court on August 25, 2001, for plotting terror attacks on Punjab SSP Sumedh Singh Saini in 1991 and then Youth Congress president M S Bitta in 1993, leading to several deaths in Delhi.
On Monday, Bhullar’s lawyer K T S Tulsi had urged the Supreme Court that either his mercy petition be decided expeditiously or his death sentence be commuted.
While the Opposition parties have lashed out at the “delay” in taking a decision in the case of Afzal Guru’s petition, home minister P Chidambaram maintains that there is no fixed time for deciding the mercy petitions and that the ministry will go serial wise on deciding the pleas.
At least 15 cases have been referred, and decision obtained in 11. The case of three persons sentenced to death in the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and two other terrorist cases are currently pending as is the Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru’s case.
Guru’s wife Tabasum Afzal had petitioned the President on October 3, 2006, for commutation of his death sentence. The Delhi government was asked for its view. The Delhi government’s comments were furnished by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi in June 2010, and they are being examined by the home ministry.
Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President is empowered to grant pardon and commute the death sentence of a convict. She can also suspend and remit the death sentence of a condemned prisoner on the advice of the Centre.

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