President Pratibha Patil has acted on the mercy plea of two death row convicts – a move that could now advance the decision on the mercy plea of Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru.
President Patil on Thursday gave her assent to the execution of Devinder Singh Bhullar of Punjab and MN Dass of Assam.
This is the first time since 2004 – when Dhananjay Chatterjee was executed – that the President has given the nod for any execution.
The President’s decision will have a bearing on the mercy plea of Afzal Guru – who has been convicted of his role in the Parliament Attack of 2001. Afzal’s name now goes up on the list.
Constitutionally, the President is empowered to grant pardon and commute the death sentence of a convict. She can also suspend and remit the death sentence of a condemned prisoner, after consultation with the Centre.
The BJP meanwhile hit out at the government and demanded that the mercy plea be rejected at the earliest. Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad called it appeasement politics by the UPA.
Prasad said, “Government of India must tell us under which law authorises the government that mercy petitions must be taken up in a sequence.”