Prez Patil most merciful of all Presidents

President Pratibha Patil has commuted death sentences of 23 petitioners to life imprisonment during her tenure.

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil, it
seems, has been the most merciful of all presidents during the
last three decades as she has commuted death sentences of 23
petitioners to life imprisonment during her tenure, which is
over 90 per cent of the total pardon granted since 1981.

On February 9, she accepted the clemency petition of
Sushil Murmu, pending since 2004, who was convicted for giving
`bali` (sacrifice) of a nine-year old boy in Jharkhand for his
own prosperity, an RTI response from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
It said that since 1981, 91 convicts knocked the doors of
Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking commutation of their death
sentences to life imprisonment. Of these, petitions of 31
individuals were accepted out of which 23 were during her

According to the reply provided to applicant Subhash
Agrawal, 18 mercy petitions were still pending before the
Patil, however, in exceptional cases, has rejected the
petitions of five individuals which include the three killers
of Rajiv Gandhi-- Santham, Murughan and Arivu-- and Davinder
Pal Singh and Mahedra Nath Das of Assam who had murdered
68-year-old Harakanta Das, the then secretary of the Guwahati
Truck Drivers Association at a roadside stall.

In Murmu`s case, his sentence was commuted to life by
Patil even though he was convicted for the killing, which was
termed by the Supreme Court as "an illustrative and most
exemplary case to be treated as the `rarest of rare cases` in
which death sentence is and should be the rule, with no
exception whatsoever."