As Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru continues to remain in Tihar Jail pending a decision on his mercy plea, the BJP and home minister P Chidambaram were again locked in a war of words on hanging the death row convict on Monday.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj raised the pitch after a memorial service for the slain security personnel saying the country wanted to know why Guru has not been hanged despite the Supreme Court confirming his punishment.
"Only paying tributes without giving punishment to the convicts, seems an observance of a ceremony," she said.
Countering the criticism, Chidambaram said he did not want to enter into a verbal quarrel with BJP. "Either they are dense or pretending to be deaf," he said, pointing that he had explained the status of death convicts several times.
"Every single case is being submitted in the serial order in which it appears in the list that was earlier submitted to the President," he said. "The President has already passed orders in five or six cases.
Now, therefore, the record is very clear, zero in six years (of NDA rule), two in about four-and-half years (when Shivraj Patil was Home Minister) and I think five or six in two years," he said.
Government sources later suggested the home ministry had sent half a dozen reminders to Rashtrapati Bhavan this year. All the cases sent by the Government are under the President’s "active consideration", a Rashtrapati Bhavan official said, emphasising there were no time limits for the president. "It is no use sending any more cases till some of this backlog is cleared..."