Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Afzal Guru to be hanged; no favour for mercy plea

The central Home Ministry has written to the President of India that Afzal Guru's is a fit case for death sentence, in response to the mercy plea filed by his wife Tabassum. The Centre said the nature of the crime is heinous and the convict in the Parliament House attack deserves no mercy.

A ministry note says: "Mercy petition filed by Tabassum, wife of the Parliament House attack convict Afzal Guru, should be rejected. Nature of the crime committed is heinous and he deserves no mercy."

However, eminent jurist Shanti Bhushan termed the Centre's move unfortunate, saying Guru was only a conspirator of the attack, and did not carry out the attack.

"This is very unfortunate. The government is bowing down to the Opposition pressure. Death penalty is for the person who actually does the act. He was only a conspirator, so the SC should not have given him death sentence. It is an additional punishment to be on the death row for five years," said Shanti Bhushan.

The petition for mercy to Guru did not find favour from the Home ministry following recommendation of the Delhi LG Tejendra Khanna. The case has been dragging on for nine years.

Five terrorists had attacked the parliament on December 13, 2001 leaving seven security personnel dead. Sopore resident Mohammed Afzal Guru was charged with plotting the attack a few days later.

On December 18, 2002, the Delhi High Court awarded death sentence to Guru following which he moved the Supreme court. But the apex court upheld the death sentence on August 4, 2005.

Guru's hanging was fixed for October 20, 2006 but his wife Tabassum had filed a mercy petition and as a result his execution was stayed. As per procedure, the then President APJ Kalam sought the Home Ministry's views on the plea.

The Home Ministry in turn sent the Afzal file to the Delhi government seeking advice where it was held up for four years. The state government acted only after 16 reminders. Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna sought clarifications on the Afzal Guru mercy petition last month on May 18, 2010.

Two weeks ago, the Delhi government Lt Governor sent back Afzal file to the Home Ministry, saying it supported Afzal's death sentence but that there was a need to examine the law and order implications of implementing the SC verdict.


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