Mercy petitions of five death row convicts including Surendra Koli, who was found guilty in the sensational Nithari serial rapes and killings, were on Wednesday rejected by the home ministry.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh signed five files recommending to President Pranab Mukherjee that the mercy pleas of Renukabai and Seema (Maharashtra), Koli (Uttar Pradesh), Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik (Maharashtra), Jagdish (Madhya Pradesh) and Holiram Bordoloi (Assam) should be rejected, official sources said.
The President, who takes the final call on mercy pleas, can return the cases to the ministry for reconsideration. This can be done only once if he so decides after which he is constitutionally obliged to accept the ministry's decision.
Koli (42), who brutally killed and later axed children in Nithari locality of Noida in UP, was awarded the death sentence by a lower court which was upheld by the Allahabad high court and confirmed by the Supreme Court in February 2011.
In a case that outraged the nation, Koli was found guilty of serial rapes and murders between 2005 and 2006 at his employer, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher's house in Nithari. Remains of several missing children were found near the house.
While 16 cases were filed against Koli, he has been awarded the death sentence in four of them so far and others are still under trial.
Out of the five whose mercy petitions were rejected by the government, Mukherjee's office had returned the files of Seema and Renukabai and Jagdish to the home ministry for review as the previous government sent them to the President's Secretariat at the end of its tenure.
The two sisters, along with their mother and another accomplice Kiran Shinde, abducted 13 children between 1990 to 1996 and killed nine of them. However, the prosecution could prove only five murders. The two sisters were given the death sentence.
The case against the mother had to be abated as she died in 1997 while Shinde turned an approver in the case.