Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said he planned to take up one by one the 28 mercy petitions of death row prisoners.
“Of the total 28 mercy petitions, 26 are with the President’s office and two are in the government system. The first mercy petition in line is from Tamil Nadu and dates back to 1998. I will have to take a fresh look at it and see what advice was given at that time,” he told reporters.
Mr. Chidambaram said there had been many governments since 1998. “There is a new Home Minister now and it is a new government, I will see if a fresh look is needed.”
The United Progressive Alliance government had come in for criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party for going slow on the mercy petitions. It had cited Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the Parliament House terror attack case and sentenced to death. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court, but a decision on his mercy petition was pending.
On the government decision to withdraw the Bofors pay-off case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, he referred to Law Minister Veerappa Moily’s statement that the case was pursued by the legal system for many years and had failed.
“The Law Minister has said that after consultations with the Attorney General and the Solicitor General of India, the CBI has come to the conclusion that the case should be withdrawn. As an individual, I feel that it makes sense.”
Asked if the same yardstick applied to Dawood Ibrahim, mastermind behind the 1993 serial bomb attacks in Mumbai, Mr. Chidambaram said: “I have enough evidence against Dawood to take him to court.”