While the Union government took seven years to decide on the mercy petition of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, there are petitions pending with the government for over a decade now. This includes the petition of a convict awarded death sentence by the Supreme Court in 1999.

After Sushilkumar Shinde took over as Home Minister in August last year, President Pranab Mukherjee returned to the Ministry of Home Affairs files pertaining to mercy petitions for re-evaluation, a norm generally followed. As on January this year, Rashtrapati Bhavan had sent Mr. Shinde nine mercy petitions for “further consideration,” including that of Afzal Guru who was hanged last week.

There are eight mercy pleas of 13 convicts on death row that are still “under process.” The MHA sources, however, said Mr. Shinde had taken a decision regarding the mercy pleas of four aides of forest brigand Veerappan — Simon, Gnanaprakash, Madaiah and Bilavandra — convicted for killing 22 persons in landmine blasts.

Of the remaining seven mercy petitions that were returned by the President, two are from Haryana — Dharampal, who was awarded death sentence in 1999 for killing five members of a family while on bail in a rape case; and Sonia and Sanjeev, who were given death sentence in February 2007 for killing eight members of their family over property dispute.

Three petitions are from Uttar Pradesh — Gurmeet Singh, convicted for killing 13 members of his family and awarded capital punishment in September 2005; Jafar Ali, who killed his wife and five daughters, and on death row since April 2004; and Suresh and Ramji who were given death sentence in March 2001 for killing five relatives over property dispute.

Apart from the case of Veerappan’s aides, another case from Karnataka is that of Praveen Kumar who killed four members of a family and was awarded death penalty in October 2003. Another convict whose mercy plea is pending and was returned by the President is Sundar Singh from Uttarakhand who was awarded capital punishment in September 2010 for murdering five members of his brother’s family.

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