Centre recommends rejecting Afzal Guru clemency petition

The Centre, recommending to President Prathibha Patil that she reject Afzal Guru's clemency petition, on Friday downplayed reports of Dileep Padgaonkar, its interlocutor on Kashmir, disfavouring the death penalty.

Responding to questions on the issue, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Mr. Padgaonkar had told him that he had not made any such statement. He said the Government of India was bound to act by Constitution and law.

“He [Mr. Padgaonkar] called me to say he did not make any such statement. He said his personal view was that the death penalty should not be given to anyone. He is against death penalty. A number of people are against the death penalty. He denied the statement. So as far as I am concerned, there is no issue,” Mr. Chidambaram told reporters at the GoM media briefing. Asked about Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani warning the Centre about serious consequences if Afzal Guru was executed, the Home Minister said: “That is Geelani's view. I am bound to act according to the Constitution and the law.”

Replying to a host of questions on the issue, Mr, Chidambaram said the Centre had forwarded the mercy petition of Afzal Guru to the President with recommendations.

“It's only when the President takes a decision, we know what the decision is....there is no decision on the mercy petition yet.”

Replying to questions on the President rejecting the mercy petitions of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination accused, Mr. Chidambaram said: “We are in the process of informing the [concerned] State governments about the decision.” — PTI

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