Atbir, lodged in Tihar Jail, New Delhi, is the first death-row convict whose sentence has been commuted by President Pranab Mukherjee. Mr. Mukherjee passed the order on November 15. Atbir is one of the 16 death-row convicts whose mercy petition, Pratibha Patil, Mr. Mukherjee’s predecessor, left undecided while completing her tenure.

Atbir was convicted and sentenced to death by a sessions court in 2004 for the murder of his step mother, step sister and step brother in 1996 over a property dispute. The High Court confirmed the sentence in 2006 and the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against the sentence in 2010. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recommended commutation as the crime had a socio-economic basis.

According to the Rashtrapati Bhavan website, Mr. Mukherjee now has only one pending mercy petition to be decided by him.

The remaining petitions appear to have been sent back to the MHA to facilitate fresh submission of recommendations.

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