The Home Ministry has requested the President to reject Afzal Guru’s mercy petition and award him a death sentence.
They argue that his crime - attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001 – is so critical that it doesn’t deserve any mercy.
Mohammed Afzal Guru and five others had attacked the Parliament killing nine security personnel. He was charged with plotting the attack a few days later.
December 18, 2002: A year later, a local court sentenced Guru the death sentence. He moved the Supreme Court.
October 29, 2003: Delhi High Court retains Guru’s death sentence.
August 4, 2005: The apex court retained the death sentence.
A committee consisted of academicians, lawyers and human rights activists such as Nirmala Deshpande with Mahasweta Devi, Rajni Kothari, Prabhat Patnaik, Ashish Nandy, Prashant Bhushan, Sumanta Banerjee, Mihir Desai, and others as members, held a press conference within a week of the judgment by the Supreme Court.
They took up Afzal’s case and requested for further inquiry as they felt he, ‘a surrendered militant,’ “was practically unrepresented in the trial” and a victim of whatever the police fed the courts.
October 20, 2006: Afzal Guru was to be hanged, but his wife Tabassum filed a mercy petition, so his execution was held. According to procedure, the then President of India APJ Abdul Kalam asked for the Home Ministry’s views on the defence.
The Home Ministry then sent the Afzal file to the Delhi Government where it was retained up for four years.
March 2010: Afzal had filed an application in SC persisting an early decision on his clemency plea. In fact, he pleaded for a death sentence instead of the solitary confinement saying “life in jail was worse than death”.
May 18, 2010: Several reminders didn’t yield any response till Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna sought explanations on the Afzal Guru mercy petition last month.
June, 2010: Only two weeks ago, the Delhi Government sent the file back to the Home Ministry saying it supported the Supreme Court’s verdict of a death sentence.
Interestingly, the President has only commuted 10 death sentences to life imprisonment out of the 77 mercy petitions that have been filed in the last 30 years.
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