President Pratibha Patil has used her constitutional power to spare the lives of eight murder convicts in two separate cases, converting their death sentences to life imprisonment, revealed the Rashtrapati Bhawan's response to an RTI query filed by Delhi-based activitst Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
The death sentences were commuted on June 15.
That still leaves the mercy petitions of 40 other convicts on death row pending. President Patil's pardon also puts the focus back on the mercy petition of Afzal Guru, sentenced to death for his role in the attack on Parliament in December 2001.
Guru's petition is expected to reach Rashtrapati Bhawan from the home ministry soon.
The UPA government has been under fire from the Opposition, particularly the BJP that has been demanding Guru's death sentence be fulfilled at the earliest.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan, however, has affirmed it is not following any deadline to decide on the pending mercy petitions.
The President has also returned three mercy petitions to the home ministry for "further examination".
Of the eight who have been saved from the gallows by the President, Shyam Manohar, Sheo Ram, Prakash, Suresh, Ravinder and Harish from UP were on death row since October 1997. They had been held guilty of murdering five persons, including a 10-year-old boy. The murders were an act to avenge the killing of the brother of one of the six convicts.
Dharmendra Kumar and Narendra Yadav of UP guilty of murdering five members of a family were the other two convicts to get the reprieve.