Monday, November 29, 1999

MHA reminder to Delhi govt on Afzal mercy plea

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Just a week before a Mumbai court sentenced Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab to death for the 26/11 attacks, the Union Home Ministry sent a strongly-worded reminder to the Delhi government, asking it to send at the earliest its comments on the mercy petition of another terror convict - Mohd Afzal Guru.According to MHA sources, this was done as the Centre feels that once Kasab's case reaches finality - it may even go to the President for grant of mercy as anybody, including foreign NGOs, is eligible to move a mercy plea for him - questions are bound to arise on why the Delhi Government is sitting on Guru's file since September 2006."We are aware questions may be asked on what we are doing about the Afzal Guru case once the file pertaining to Kasab's death sentence lands with us if somebody files a mercy plea," said a senior MHA functionary.Sources in the Delhi Government said the MHA letter, dated April 28, asks it to furnish its opinion on the issue regarding grant of mercy to Guru."It may seem that a considerable time has passed, but comments of the Delhi Government are still awaited despite reminders," says the letteraddressed to Delhi Home Secretary G S Pattanaik.MHA sources said the ministry has been informally informed that the file pertaining to Guru's mercy petition is with the office of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. A similar notice was sent in April last year. At that time, Dikshit had said she would study the matter after the elections and take appropriate action. But, a year after the Lok Sabha elections, Dikshit has not decided on the matter.Guru was awarded death penalty by a Delhi court for his role in the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament. A decision on his execution is pending as the mercy petition filed by his wife, Tabassum, has not been accepted or rejected by the President. In August 2005, the President sought the MHA's views. The MHA, in turn, sought the opinion of the Delhi Government as the comments of the government of the state where the crime has been committed are sought before deciding a mercy petition.

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