Sequence being followed on mercy pleas, says Congress

The Congress Friday admitted that time was being taken to decide on mercy petitions of death row prisoners, but said it was a constitutional process which cannot be “leapfrogged”.

Responding to queries about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) demand for the rejection of the mercy petition of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said a sequence was being followed in the matter.

The BJP demand came after President Pratibha Patil Thursday rejected the mercy pleas of two other death row convicts.

Singhvi said it was not appropriate to link the process of deciding mercy petitions to “one or two cases”.

“It is a constitutional process. Rest assured, as the process goes on in a sequence, it will be dealt with. Some will be accepted, some rejected,” Singhvi said.

He admitted that time was being taken to decide on mercy petitions but added that decisions had not also been taken during rule of the National Democratic Alliance government that the BJP led.

“There is a list which you can’t leapfrog,” he said.

Asked if there was a law that said a sequence had to be followed, Singhvi said, “Common sense is the biggest law”.

The BJP Friday reiterated its demand for the execution of Afzal Guru. It said the delay was because of “vote-bank politics”.

Party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said Afzal Guru’s mercy petition should be rejected at the earliest.

President Patil Thursday rejected the mercy petition of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who was convicted for the 1993 car bomb attack outside the Indian Youth Congress office in New Delhi that killed 12 people and injured 29.

The president also rejected the mercy petition of Mahendra Nath Das of Assam, who was sentenced to death for murdering a person while out on bail in another murder case.

Afzal Guru is accused of collaborating with five terrorists who attacked India’s parliament Dec 13, 2001, killing nine security personnel and staff. The five were gunned down.

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