President rejects mercy petition
Dhananjoy Chatterjee, sentenced to death for allegedly raping and murdering a 14-year-old school girl in 1990, is all set to face the gallows with President A P J Abdul Kalam rejecting his mercy petition.
The clemency petition of 43-year-old Chatterjee was rejected last night and sent to Union Home Ministry and would be later communicated to the West Bengal government.
The issue generated a debate with civil rights organisations demanding an end to capital punishment.
The President decided to reject the petition after he had discussions with legal experts including Attorney General Milon Banerji, official sources said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
A few days before he was to be hanged on June 25, Chatterjee's relatives and friends filed a mercy petition which was forwarded to the President for consideration.
Chatterjee's mercy plea has been rejected by the President once earlier. He was sentenced to death by a Kolkota Sessions Court on August 12, 1991 and the order was confirmed by the Calcutta High Court in 1992. The Supreme Court also upheld the conviction and sentence in January 1994.
Since his death sentence in 1992 by the sessions court for the gruesome act, Dhananjoy has successfully used loopholes in the legal procedures to escape the gallows for over a decade.
Chatterjee had once before escaped the noose by a whisker in 1994, when he got a stay on his execution from the Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court.
He had moved the High Court a day before February 25, 1994, the date fixed for his execution and obtained a stay from the court on the ground that he had moved a mercy petition before the President on February 17.
On the same day (February 24) his wife Purnima had moved the apex court seeking a stay on execution on the ground that she be allowed time to move a mercy petition before the President.
The apex court granted the stay for a week till March four and a communique was received by the West Bengal Judicial Department the same evening about the stay, just hours before the scheduled execution at 4.30 a.m the next morning.
He managed two more extensions on the stay by the High Court and then an unlimited stay till disposal of his petition by the President, suppressing the fact that his wife had also obtained a stay on his execution from the apex court giving the same reason, public prosecutor for state before the High Court, Kaji Safiullah.
While the mercy petition was rejected by the President on June 23, 1994, the state government did not take any step to vacate the stay by the High Court, till it came to the notice of a Judicial Department officer in October 2003.
Once the High Court was informed of the situation by the judicial department, the then Chief Justice A K Mathur assigned the matter to Justice D P Sengupta and the stay was vacated in November last.
An appeal against this order by Dhananjoy was also rejected by a division bench of the High Court a month later.
Dhananjoy had been convicted on three counts-- Section 302 (murder) IPC for which the execution order was given, Section 376 (rape) IPC for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment and Section 380 (theft inside house) IPC, for which he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
Dhananjoy was sentenced to death on August 12, 1991, by the Second Additional Session Judge, Alipur, R N Kali.
The execution order was confirmed by a division bench of the Calcutta High Court comprising Justice M K Mukherjee and Justice J N Hore on August 7, 1992.
The convict moved the Supreme Court and his appeal was dismissed by a division bench comprising Justice A S Anand and Justice N P Singh on January 11, 1994.
His review petition before the apex court was also rejected on January 20, 1994.
He then moved a mercy petition before the West Bengal Governor on February two, 1994, which was rejected on February 16 the same year.
Following this, he had moved a mercy petition before the President, on February 17, 1994, which was rejected on June 23 the same year.