New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the
Centre to furnish details of the number of mercy petitions
disposed off by the President in 2011, besides other petitions
pending with the government for the past several years.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyaya
passed a written order to the effect after perusing minutely
certain confidential files relating to the mercy pleas placed
before it by Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal.
The apex court had on April 3 directed the Centre to
furnish details of 18 mercy pleas, including that of
Parliament attack death convict Afzal Guru pending before the
President for 7 years.
The court passed the directions while dealing with the
appeal filed by death convict Sikh militant Devender Pal Singh
Bhullar, challenging the undue delay in disposal of his mercy
petition by the President.
But during today`s hearing, the Centre could place only
certain details which were examined by the bench in the court.
Assisting the court as amicus curiae, senior counsel
T R Andhiarujina said "it is inhuman" to keep the death
convicts under prolonged incarceration by delaying a decision
on the mercy petition whatever may be the nature of their
"There is a need for laying down a certain time frame for
deciding on such mercy petitions," he said.
The court agreed with the view of the amicus that many
death row convicts apparently do not want to risk their case
by coming to the court lest their mercy applications are
decided immediately by the government.
The bench cited the instance of the mercy petition of
Bhullar being rejected within days of his family filing a
petition in the Supreme Court.
The arguments would continue tomorrow.