M A I N   N E W S

Kalam for policy on death penalty, pardon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 26
President A P J Abdul Kalam today sent a strong message to the Manmohan Singh government today calling for a debate in Parliament about the death penalty and grant of clemency by the Head of State.

“All aspects should be debated in Parliament and a comprehensive policy should be laid down,” Dr Kalam told mediapersons after administering oath to the just retired civil servant Wajahat Habibullah as country’s first Chief Information Commissioner.

The President was responding to questions about reports in the media about a letter written by him to the Union Home Ministry urging the government to reconsider its recommendation of granting pardon to some convicts sentenced to death, including those involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Dr Kalam was concerned about the issue and urged the government to take a “comprehensive view” on the merits or demerits of the mercy petitions before making its recommendations.

Clearly, the President believed that several aspects needed to be considered in its entirety especially the factors uppermost in the determination of granting clemency. These might pertain to the age, physical and mental health as well as the personal and family background of such convicts.

Sources averred that the churning in Dr Kalam’s mind was not specific but taking an overview covering all clemency petitions pending in Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Interestingly, of the 20-odd mercy petitions that Rashtrapati Bhawan was presently seized of, nearly a dozen had been there before Dr Kalam assumed the high office more than three years back in July 2002. On its part the Home ministry had recommended that in most cases it was against the President granting mercy.

In effect, certain aspects on granting clemency coupled with the recommendation made by the Home Ministry had inexorably thrown up questions in the President’s mind.

In turn, Dr Kalam sought certain clarifications from the government so that there were no nagging doubts in his mind in the discharge of his duties and responsibilities in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution.

Impartial observers drew attention to Article 72 of the Constitution, which vested power to the President to pardon convicts condemned to the gallows by the Supreme Court on the basis of their clemency petitions. It was not unusual for the Rashtrapati Bhawan to forward such applications to the Home Ministry for its views.

The Home Ministry had to necessarily delve into the merits of the reasons cited in such petitions before making its recommendations and duly securing the approval of the Union Cabinet. Some pending clemency petitions included those of some Punjab militants and slain forest brigand Veerappan’s associates.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |