New Delhi: The government has forwarded the mercy petition of the 2001 parliament attack convict Afzal Guru to President Pratibha Patil for a decision but with a recommendation that he may be executed.
The home ministry sent Afzal Guru’s file to the President’s Secretariat last week, Minister of State for Home M. Ramachandran said in a statement to the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.
“The mercy petition of death convict Afzal Guru has since been submitted to the President’s Secretariat July 27,” he said. Official sources said the government has upheld the advice of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna, who has favoured that Afzal Guru be executed.
The home ministry recommendations are not binding on the president. She can decide whether or not Afzal Guru should be given clemency and his death sentence converted into life imprisonment.
Since many mercy petitions are pending with the home ministry and the President’s Secretariat, the minister was asked if there was any provision to decide on such cases according to the sequence of its submission. Ramachandran said: “There is no constitutional provision. It was an administrative decision to ensure fair and urgent treatment of all cases.”
Afzal Guru was found guilty of plotting the Dec 13, 2001 parliament attack in which nine people were killed. He was sentenced to death in 2002. The Delhi High Court confirmed the death penalty in 2003.
The sentence was scheduled to be carried out Oct 20, 2006 after the Supreme Court upheld it in 2004. But the execution was stayed following a mercy petition filed by his wife. He remains on death row.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded that Afzal Guru be executed. The Congress said the final decision lies with the president. “It depends on the president. No one has the right to tell her how to decide,” spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.