New Delhi: The Congress-led UPA government has recommended to President Pratibha Patil that the mercy petition moved by the Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru, who is on the death row, should be rejected.
According to reports Wednesday, the Home Ministry in its recommendation sent to the President last week has cited the serious nature of crime committed by Guru as reason enough for denying any mercy.
The Supreme Court had in 2005 upheld the Delhi High Court verdict confirming the trial court judgement which had awarded capital punishment to Guru for his role in the conspiracy behind the December 13, 2001, terror attack on Parliament. Subsequently, the Sessions Court set October 20, 2006 as the date for hanging Afzal Guru but his wife Tabassum filed a mercy petition.
With the Ministry communicating that the plea be rejected, it is now up to the President to take a call on the fate of Afzal Guru. Exercising her powers under Article 72 of the Constitution, Patil recently commuted the death sentences of three murder convicts to life terms.
Reports claim that President, under the 44th Amendment, can send the advice of the Council of Ministers for reconsideration. But if the Council of Ministers sends the same advice again, the President “shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration”.
The Home Ministry’s decision comes after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna, on June 3, sent the file on Afzal Guru to the Ministry supporting death sentence. The file was sent after 16 reminders from the Home Ministry to the Sheila Dikshit government.
The Delhi Government had earlier referred Afzal Guru’s file to Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna seeking his opinion while backing the sentence with a rider that the implications of law and order situation should be closely examined while carrying out the execution.
Afzal`s file was lying in the cold storage for the last four years with the Delhi Government but it swung into action only after May 6 when Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was handed down death sentence for the Mumbai carnage.
Afzal Guru`s hanging has been a major issue for a section in the Congress as well BJP which have raised the matter numerous times in both houses of Parliament and the Delhi Assembly. The delay in executing him has prompted the BJP to accuse the UPA government of being soft on terrorists.
Congress said it supports the Home Ministry`s
stand on the issue.
"Law will take its own course and the proceedure laid
down under the Constitution will be followed and shall be
followed. We support the Home Ministry on this issue, "party
spokesperson Jayanthi Natarjan told reporters here.