After rejecting mercy petitions of 22 death row convicts, the death sentence of a condemned prisoner belonging to Assam has been commuted to life imprisonment by the President Pranab Mukherjee.
The death sentence of Man Bahadur Dewan, alias Tote Dewan, who hails from Assam's Dibrugarh district, stands commuted to life imprisonment reportedly. Dewan was sentenced to death for killing his wife Gauri and two minor sons, Rajib and Kajib, in September 2002. The prisoner had also killed one of his neighbours, Bidhimaya, and surrendered before the police after the multiple murder.
Death sentence has been largely debated across the world. In India also various human rights organizations have been questioning legal and moral sanctity of capital punishment. After the judgment in Shatrughan Chaunhan’s case last year, the sentencing policy in death cases has become less judge centric and more principled. It has infact virtually abolished death penalty by narrowing down the ambit of rarest of rare cases doctrine. The death sentence of 1993 blast convict Yakub Menon, whose mercy petition was rejected by the president, had been stayed by the Supreme Court. The decision of the President is amenable to judicial review. In Dewan's case, Mukherjee is believed to have relied upon the opinion of the Home Ministry which had advised him to take a lenient view of the case.The Ministry is reportedly learnt to have advised Mukherjee that Dewan is from a poor background and murdered his wife, sons and a neighbour due to abject poverty and unemployment.