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Report No. 262

Table 6.1. Details of Mercy Petitions Decided by the President

S. No.

Name of the President

Tenure

Number of Mercy Petitions Accepted

Number of Mercy Petitions Rejected

Total

1

Rajendra Prasad

26.1.195.- 3.5.1962

180

1

181

2

SarvapalliRadhakrishnan

13.5.196.- 13.5.1967

57

0

57

3

ZakirHussain

13.5.196.- 3.5.1969

22

0

22

4

V.V. Giri

3.5.196.- 20.7.1969;
24.8.196.- 24.8.1974

3

0

3

5

Fakrudhin Ali Ahmed

24.8.197.- 11.2.1977

NA

NA

0

6

N Sanjeeva Reddy

25.7.197.- 5.7.1982

NA

NA

0

7

Zail Singh

25.7.198.- 25.7.1987

2

30

32

8

R. Venkatraman

25.7.198.- 25.7.1992

5

45

50

9

S.D. Sharma

25.7.199.- 25.7.1997

0

18

18

10

K.R. Narayanan

25.7.199.- 25.7.2002

0

0

0

11

A.P.J Kalam

25.7.200.- 25.7.2007

1

1

2

12

PratibhaPatil

25.7.200.- 25.7.2012

34

5

39

13

Pranab Mukherjee

25.7.201.--

2

31

33

Total

306

131

437

716 This table is based on archival research and RTI data collected by Bikram Jeet Batra and others. official figures of mercy petitions disposed of by the Presidents at serial nos. 1-9 are not available, and the figures in the table are based on empirical verification from the archives which may not be complete.

6.5.3 During the period 1950-1982, which saw six Presidents, only one mercy petition was rejected as against 262 commutations of death sentence to life imprisonment. As per available records, President Rajendra Prasad commuted the death sentences in 180 out of the 181 mercy petitions he decided, rejecting only one. President Radhakrishnan commuted the death sentences in all the 57 mercy petitions decided by him. President Hussain and President Giri commuted the death sentence in all the petitions decided by them, while President Ahmed and President Reddy did not get to deal with any mercy petitions in their tenure.

6.5.4 In contrast to the first phase (1950-1982), between 1982 and 1997, three Presidents rejected, between then, 93 mercy petitions and commuted seven death sentences. President Zail Singh rejected 30 of the 32 mercy petitions he decided, and President Venkatraman rejected 45 of the 50 mercy petitions decided by him. Subsequently, President Sharma rejected all the 18 mercy petitions put up before him.

6.5.5 In what can be called the third phase i.e. 1997-2007, the two Presidents kept almost all the mercy petitions received by them from the government of the day pending, and only two mercy petitions were decided during this period. While President Narayanan did not take any decision on any mercy petition before him, President Abdul Kalam acted only twice during his tenure resulting in one rejection and another commutation. During their combined tenure of ten years, they put the brakes on the disposal of mercy petitions.

6.5.6 Later, President Pratibha Patil during her Presidency rejected five mercy petitions, and commuted 34 death sentences. The current President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has thus far rejected 31 of the 33 mercy petitions decided by him.

6.5.7 A perusal of the chart of mercy petitions disposed by Presidents suggests that a death-row convict's fate in matters of life and death may not only depend on the ideology and views of the government of the day but also on the personal views and belief systems of the President.



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