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Afzal’s plea: Home Ministry to take a call

Four years after its opinion was sought by the Centre, the file pertaining to the mercy petition of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, who is in the death row, has been sent to the Union Home Ministry by the Delhi Government.

delhi Updated: Jun 05, 2010 01:46 IST

Aloke Tikku

New Delhi

Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna is learnt to have recommended rejecting Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru's mercy petition filed more than three years ago.

Khanna sent his recommendation to the home ministry, a government source confirmed on Friday.

The Lieutenant-Governor had found the initial recommendation of chief minister Sheila Dikshit vague and asked her to take a clear-cut position. Khanna received the file with the clarifications sought on May 19. But the recommendation does not mean that Afzal Guru will be sent to the gallows any time soon.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram has made it clear that Afzal Guru's petition was in the queue. There are 21 other mercy petitions that needed to be disposed of before the home ministry took up his case.

That could mean the Parliament attack accused may have to wait for another 18 months or so before the home ministry makes up its mind.

But a RTI petition by Subhash Chandra Agrawal reveals that Rashtrapati Bhavan has not cleared a single file over the last decade where the mercy petition had been rejected.

Given the kind of judicial scrutiny that death penalty cases go through at the high court and the Supreme Court, the home ministry response to the RTI request revealed that the President granted mercy in only one out of every seven cases taken up since 1983.

The last person to be granted a presidential pardon was R Govindasamy of Tamil Nadu, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in November 2009.

"It is unlikely that Afzal Guru can be given the same treatment," a senior government source said.

First Published: Jun 04, 2010 12:08 IST