The centre on Wednesday rejected the allegation that Afzal Guru’s hanging was shrouded in secrecy, saying the concerned states are informed about the rejection of mercy petitions of death row convicts, and it was conveyed to the Delhi government well in advance in this case.
In a counter affidavit filed in the Madras High Court, the home ministry has rebutted the charge about not having followed the proper procedure in Guru’s hanging.
“The role of the central government through the home ministry is confined to informing the concerned state government about the rejection of the mercy petition, which then carries out the execution in accordance with the rules mentioned in the jail manual,” additional solicitor general P Wilson said.
The high court had directed the centre to respond to a public interest litigatio,n which had alleged that Guru was hanged hurriedly in a hush hush manner on February 9 this year in violation of the rules.
The petition seeks to restrain the home ministry from hanging any death row convict secretly without informing his family, and it should be carried out only after making public the rejection of a mercy petition. It will come up for hearing on Friday.
The home ministry has stated that the question of making public the details of when the execution would be done was within the purview of the state government, which does it according to the jail manual.
Wilson said the question of secret executions does not arise since it is clear in the rules that state governments inform the condemned prisoners about rejection of their mercy petitions and date of execution.
The government had faced flak on the way Guru was hanged and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had conveyed his displeasure to the home ministry for not having informed his family before the hanging.
Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir had also gone public on the issue in April and had favoured informing the families of death row convicts before they are hanged.