Amidst a raging debate on the issue of mercy petition of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru, the Union home ministry has said there can be no specific guidelines for examining such pleas.
No specific guidelines can be framed for examining the mercy petitions as the power under Article 72 of the Constitution is of the widest amplitude and can contemplate myriad kinds and categories of cases with facts and situations varying from case to case, the home ministry has explained.
The MHA's view assumes significance as it comes in the wake of the BJP-led opposition targeting the government accusing it of dragging its feet on the mercy plea of Afzal, who has been given death penalty by the Supreme Court in the Parliament attack case.
At present, 23 mercy petitions are pending - two for less than a year, eight for one to three years and 13 for over three years.
According to the MHA, the broad guidelines generally considered while examining mercy petitions are personality of the accused such as age, sex or mental deficiency, or circumstances of the case, conduct of the offender and medical abnormality falling short of legal insanity.
Figures available with the home ministry show that during the last decade, the President has rejected seven mercy petitions and commuted the sentences of two, while in the previous decade out of 45 petitions 41 were rejected and four commuted.