President Pranab Mukherjee has been reportedly recommended by the Ministry of Home Affairs to reject the petitions of two death row convicts.
The death sentence for the convicts, Mohan Anna Chavan and Jitendra Gehlot, currently lodged in Maharashtra jails, was upheld by the Supreme Court and their mercy petitions were rejected by the Maharashtra Governor.
Mohan Anna Chavan was awarded death sentence by the Bombay High Court in 2002 for the rape and murder of two minor girls in Kolhapur district, Maharashtra and Supreme Court upheld it in 2008.
Jithendra Nayansingh Gehlot killed seven persons (five women and two children) in Pune, Maharashtra in 1994. Death penalty was awarded to him by a trial court and the same was upheld by Bombay High Court in 1999 and Supreme Court in 2000.
A senior ministry official was quoted as saying, “We have given our opinion to the President explaining our stand. The decision has been reached after going through all the relevant documents as well as the opinion given by the Maharashtra government on the subject.”
Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President can grant pardon, and suspend, remit or commute a sentence of death. The President is bound by the recommendation of the Council of Ministers in deciding the mercy petitions. President Mukherjee has rejected 22 mercy petitions so far and has commuted only one death sentence of Man Bahadur Dewan from Assam convicted for killing his wife, two sons and neighbor.
MHA data reportedly shows that Presidents, with the exceptions of Narayanan and Pratibha Patil, have dealt with mercy petitions largely without mercy. According to information released by the government under the RTI Act, of the 77 mercy pleas decided by Presidents between 1991 and 2010, 69 were rejected. Only 8 — about 10% — of those who sought mercy were spared the gallows. R Venkataraman (1987-1992) rejected 44 mercy pleas, the most by any President.