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Updated: March 31, 2012 23:56 IST

We'll examine Rajoana's mercy plea on merit, says Chidambaram

Vinay Kumar
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Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram presenting his Ministry's report card for March, 2012, in New Delhi on March 31, 2012. Photo: V. Sudershan
The Hindu Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram presenting his Ministry's report card for March, 2012, in New Delhi on March 31, 2012. Photo: V. Sudershan

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday said that his ministry would examine on merit the mercy petition of Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced to death for assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh and it would be submitted to the President for a final decision.

Mr. Chidambaram said that Rajoana's mercy petition, filed by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, has reached the Home Ministry two days ago and has been added to the list of mercy petitions of condemned prisoners.

At his monthly press conference, Mr. Chidambaram said that execution of a condemned prisoner has to be put on hold once a mercy petition was filed before the President and it should be kept in abeyance till a decision was taken on the prayer.

He said guidelines in this regard were very clear. “Once a mercy petition is filed on behalf of a sentenced prisoner, the sentence cannot be executed unless there is a decision on the mercy petition. So, when we got the copy of the mercy petition (of Rajoana) from the President's Secretariat, we immediately drew the attention of the government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and the instructions,’’ he said.

“By drawing the attention of government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and instructions, does not mean the Home Ministry is expressing any opinion on the merits of the mercy petition,’’ he said.

Mr. Chidambaram said during his tenure as a Home Minister, he has received 33 mercy petitions and all but one have been submitted or resubmitted to the President for decisions.

He said that 32 mercy petitions have been submitted or re-submitted to the President and the President has taken a decision in 15 cases which in itself was a record for any President for any period of three years.

The Home Minister said mercy petition of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru was still pending before the President for a final decision.

On recent abduction by Maoists in Odisha, he supported the steps taken by the State government in talking to the Maoists for the safe release of an abducted Italian and an MLA.

“Only course available to Odisha government is to hold negotiations with the extremists for the safe release of the two hostages. There are two people in captivity so the State government is right in appointing interlocutors to talk to the CPI (Maoists) or any other group that may have abducted the persons,’’ he said at the press conference.

Mr. Chidambaram said that he had spoken to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik several times and the Home Ministry officials were in regular touch with the Odisha government officials to ease the situation.

On the Centre’s offer of talks with the Maoists, he said the offer has been made several times in the past but the Left Wing extremists have to suspend violence once they agree to hold talks. “It is not that we don't speak until Maoists abjure violence. We have made them an offer for talks and we said please come for talks. The condition is that while we talk, they should not indulge in violence. They have rejected that offer. The onus is upon them to say that while we welcome the talks, while we are talking, there should not be any violence. Is that an unreasonable stipulation?,’’ he said.

Replying to question about American historian Peter Heehs, Mr. Chidambaram said that he would review the decision on cancellation of the visa to the historian who was living in Puducherry by Monday.

Mr. Heehs was asked to leave the country after he had spent nearly four decades while working on a project of digitisation and archival of works of freedom fighter and spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo.

“This (decision to cancel the visa) was noticed by me this morning and I understand that the FRRO Puducherry passed the order. I have asked for a suo motu review and I will take a decision on Monday,’’ Mr. Chidambaram told reporters.

Eminent historians and academics have protested against the move of cancelling the U.S. historian’s visa and have also petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Chidambaram for reviewing the decision.

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In the right spirit of law & justice BS Rajoana must be hanged, even if he is made martyr by his community for a cause then why should he or the SGPC plead for mercy. WE have many such cases of even the freedom fighters, who were declared as terrorists during the British rule-If they feel the cause is right then why mercy plea..?

from:  Hardev Singh
Posted on: Apr 1, 2012 at 12:25 IST

This is like hijacking the Government. This will become a precedent for cases with big crowd following. Does it mean a popular leader can do anything and get away just because he is popular and a million people ask for his release? What happens to Rajiv killers. Yes, probably the mercy should be given only in cases the Govt feels that the circumstances does not necessarily prove that the culprit has done the wrong. But, this fact is taken care of by the Judges.
So, I do not honestly understand what theis mercy petition is all about. A suspect is hanged because he do not have enough money to prove his innocence. But, another culprit who has actually done the worst wrongs gets away because he can spend money. We are living in a society with regulations and laws. If this mercy culture take political overtone we might end up in a chaotic society, and end up in a culture dictated by political hooligans.

from:  C Subramanian
Posted on: Apr 1, 2012 at 08:56 IST

Add to the list, consider it, and in the meanwhile stay the execution.
What is the merit for consideration when courts have given
verdict.Justice delayed, is as good as denied is the proverb?

from:  Rammohan
Posted on: Apr 1, 2012 at 06:10 IST
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