As reported by Tribune News Service in on 24 February 2008:
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News

UPA maintains silence on Afzal’s mercy petition

The UPA government which is facing constant attack from various quarters, including the opposition BJP, for quick decision on the clemency petition of Parliament attack convict Mohd Afzal, has skipped its mention in a list of the total number of mercy cases before the President.

The information was revealed by the ministry of home affairs under the Right to Information (RTI) Act while responding to a petition filed by capital-based S.C Agrawal, who sought to know the status of total cases decided.

In its reply, the MHA, has come up with a list of 24 convicts’ mercy petition pending before the President, lodged in various jails but it “skipped” the mention of Afzal’s petition.

Interestingly, former President A.P.J Abdul Kalam had, in interviews to some the TV channels, categorically stated that Afzal’s petition had never been placed before him by the government.

Afzal, a Jaish-e-Mohammad activist, had filed the mercy petition in 2006 after exhausting all legal remedies in the Supreme Court, which in its August 4, 2005 verdict had upheld the capital punishment to him.

Agrawal had submitted the RTI petition on December 17 last year to the Rashtrapati Bhawan seeking to know the status of a total number of clemency cases before the President.

He had also sought details as how many mercy petitions had been allowed by the President and how many had been rejected.

Since many of the clemency petitions had not been processed by the MHA as yet, the President’s Secretariat had forwarded Agrawal’s petition to it for giving the e detailed information to him under the RTI.

The MHA Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) M.Perumal, in his January 28 response, provided a list of the total mercy petitions pending with the President with 24 names, including those of Murugan, Snthan and Arivu, given capital punishment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

But it “omitted” the name of Mohd Afzal from the list, while the CPIO had even annexed a list of a total of 76 cases disposed since 1981 by the President.

As per the list of 76 decided by the President, the last mercy petition was that of Kheraj Ram from Rajasthan. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

The Supreme Court had said last week that it had no role in asking the President or the government to take quick decision on Afzal’s clemency petition.

The court had said its rule under the Constitution ends with the last order.

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