In the latest development in the Nirbhaya case, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday rejected the clemency plea of Mukesh Singh, one of the four convicts, on the recommendation of the Union Ministry for Home Affairs. With his last resort to avoid capital punishment for rape and murder exhausted, convict Mukesh Singh will now certainly hang.
The home ministry had, while sending Mukesh’s plea for clemency to the president, recommended dismissal of the plea. The president normally does not ignore the home ministry’s recommendation. Earlier, the Delhi government had sent the plea to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, urging him to dismiss the petition.
Mukesh Singh had given a mercy petition to the Tihar Jail Administration. The petition reached the president through the Tihar administration, the Delhi government, the lieutenant governor and then the Union Home Ministry.
A convict on death row is entitled by law to plead for clemency with the president. The president has the right under Article 72 of the Constitution to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment.
Politics over the delay in hanging the convicts
Meanwhile, in the election season of Delhi, a war of words has erupted between the AAP and BJP over the delay in the execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case. Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is also in charge of BJP’s election campaign in Delhi blamed the local government of AAP for the delay. Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, on the other hand, said accused the union minister of lying on a sensitive issue.
The union minister had questioned the Arvind Kejriwal government why it did not give notice to the culprits for filing mercy petitions in the last two and a half years. In 2017, the Supreme Court had dismissed the convicts’ appeal and sentenced them to death. However, they could not be punished in time due to the attitude of the Kejriwal government, Javadekar alleged. If the government had given notice to the culprits within a week of the Supreme Court order, he had said, they would have been executed by now.
Sisodia said the Delhi government was in favour of hanging the culprits at the earliest. The deputy chief minister of the capital city-state said that the police administration and the MHA were under the central government. The appointment of the director-general of Tihar is in the hands of the union government too, Sisodia said, which was why Javadekar should not have blamed the Delhi government.
The deputy of Kejriwal asked why the home minister did not take any action, given that the Tihar administration reported to Amit Shah. Then Sisodia made a system-defying claim that if the Delhi government was given the charge of the local police, it could hang the Nirbhaya convicts in two days, much as it is not Delhi Police that is causing the delay.
MP Sanjay Singh said the Delhi government had rejected the clemency plea in just a few hours. The whole country knows that Delhi’s law and order is in the hands of the union government, he said.