Eleven cases of mercy petition would be waiting for President-elect Pranab Mukherjee in Rashtrapati Bhawan as soon as he gets down to business after the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.
A politician of long stature, Mukherjee will also have to face a fierce debate among political parties and civil society groups over whether high-value terrorist Afzal Guru, accused in the Parliament attack 2001, should be sent to gallows.
Outgoing President Pratibha Patil was hailed as the most merciful President in the last three decades after she commuted the death sentence of as many as 35 convicts to life imprisonment. She rejected only three mercy pleas. During her five-year tenure, Patil has decided on 38 mercy petitions and has left only 11 cases, involving a total of 16 convicts for her successor Mukherjee.
In a reply to an RTI application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the President’s Secretariat said that the President acted on the advice of the Cabinet in mercy petition matters which had been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in Maru Ram judgment.
The 11 Mercy Plea Files
1) Gurmeet Singh: Gurmeet Singh was convicted for killing 13 members of his family in August 1996. Gurmeet submitted his mercy petition to the President on December 11, 2009.
2) Dharampal: Dharampal was convicted for rape and killing after he was granted bail in another rape case on June 10, 1993.
3) Suresh and Ramji : Suresh and Ramji were convicted for murdering five members of their younger brother’s family in 1996. They submitted their petition in 2004.
4) Simon, Gnanprakash, Madaiah and Bilavandra: They were convicted for killing 22 police personnel in April 1993 by triggering a landmine blast. They were sentenced to death in 2004 and submitted their mercy petition in 2005.
5) Praveen Kumar: Praveen Kumar was convicted for murdering four members of a family in 1994. His mercy petition is undecided since September 13, 2005.
6) Md Afzal Guru: Afzal Guru was convicted for the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001. He was sentenced to death on in August 2005. His mercy petition was sent by the MHA in August 2011.
7) Saibana Nigappa Natikar: Saibana was convicted for murdering his wife and 18-month-old daughter in 1994. He was sentenced to death on April 21, 2005.
8) Jafar Ali: Jafar Ali was convicted for murdering his wife and five daughters in 2002. He was sentenced to death in April 2004. Jafar submitted his mercy petition in 2006.
9) Sonia, Sanjeev : Sonia and Sanjeev were convicted for murdering stepbrother and his family in 2001. They were sentenced to death in February 2007. Their mercy petition was submitted in 2008.
10) Sundar Singh: Sundar Singh was convicted for murdering six members of a family in June 1989. He was sentenced to death in Sept 2010 .
11) Atbir Singh: Atbir was convicted for murdering his stepmother Sheela Devi and her children on January 22, 1996.