In Tamil Nadu, at least 11 persons, including three involved in the Dharmapuri bus burning case, who were awarded death sentence and lodged in the various prisons in the State, await the outcome of their appeals in court or mercy pleas.

As per statistics of the Prisons department, six persons have sent their mercy pleas to the President, while four others convicted by the lower courts, have filed appeals before the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court.

Nedunchezhian, Ravindran and Muniappan were sentenced to death by a trial court, on February 16, 2007, in a case relating to burning of a bus at Dharmapuri. Three college girls - Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha — of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore were charred to death in the incident.

The convicts are lodged in Vellore Central Prison. After the Supreme Court upheld their death sentence in 2011, their mercy petitions have been pending with the President.

In Tiruchi Central Prison, V. Radhakrishnan, Sheik Meeran and C. Selvam have been awaiting decisions of their mercy petitions. The trio were sentenced to death by a Sessions Court in Tirunelveli in connection with a murder committed inside the court at Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district in 1994.

Lodged in the same prison is Maya Maruthu, sentenced to death for murdering his neighbour is in 2002.

His appeal against death sentence by the lower court is pending before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

Manoharan and G. Selvam, who were awarded death penalty in two different cases of rape and murder of children, are lodged in Coimbatore Central Prison. Their have appeals pending before higher courts.

B. Kumar alias Jeyakumar, a mason, sentenced to death by Sessions Court, Nagapattinam for rape and murder in 2002 in Sirkali is in Cuddalore prison. His appeal has been pending before the Supreme Court.

A review petition of S. Sundarajan, convicted on charges of abduction and murder of seven-year-old boy in 2010, is before the Supreme Court.

“Across India, around 470 persons are facing death sentences and their appeals and mercy pleas stand pending in different stages,” said Anup Surendranath, Director, Death Penalty Research Project at National Law University, Delhi

He said, “The Supreme Court’s message to the Executive is loud and clear—if it wants to go ahead with death sentences, it must dispose of the mercy petitions within a reasonable period. Therefore, these judgments cannot be seen as a step further towards abolition. On the contrary, we need to be more alert about mercy petitions’’.

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