Political Battle on the Issue of Afzal Guru’s Mercy Petition

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Bellevision Media Network


New Delhi, 20 May 2010: The political battle on the curious case of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s mercy petition file continues. The Sheila Dikshit government sent back the file on Afzal Guru’s mercy plea to Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG)  Tejinder Khanna on Wednesday, 19th May 2010 agreeing with the Supreme Court verdict of death sentence for  Afzal Guru. However, it also put the onus of tackling the law and order implications of Afzal Guru’s execution on the  Centre  in a bid to put the final decision in the hands of the UPA government. 

It appears that Delhi CM, who has been in the dock for sitting over Guru’s file for the past four years, hastily forwarded Guru’s file to the LG office on Tuesday, hoping to end the brouhaha on the issue. Sadly for Dikshit, her move only invited a terse note from Khanna. In a matter of two days, the file has been sent to Delhi LG Tejinder Khnna’s office, been returned to the state home department seeking “clarifications” and shuttled back to the LG’s office again.

Sources in the CM’s office said the state government had clarified on Wednesday that “law and order technically falls within the domain of the central government”. Agencies quoted the sources in the Delhi government as saying: “Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the opinion of the state government on mercy petition is not mandatory and in Delhi, we don’t have even law and order powers with us.” 

Thus,  the Sheila Dikshit government has left it up to the Centre to decide whether it wants to go ahead with Afzal  Guru’s execution. The Delhi government has also separately conveyed to the Union home ministry that  Afzal Guru’s  file is under “active consideration” in response to the 16th reminder by the Centre on the issue. 

Even while the politically sensitive issue was far from decided, Congress and BJP reiterated their positions on the matter. BJP criticised the Delhi government for dilly-dallying on the matter and held a protest meeting in the Capital. Congress, for its part, said the matter was “outside its purview”.  Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the matter that would be decided by the President, the Centre and the Delhi government. 

Afzal Guru was awarded the death sentence by a Delhi court on  18th December  2002, after being convicted of conspiracy to attack Parliament on 13th December  2001. The death sentence was upheld by Delhi high court on  29th October 2003, and his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court two years later on  4th August, 2005.  Following this,  Afzal Guru’s wife filed a mercy petition with the President of India, who forwarded it to the Union home ministry for its comments. The case file was then forwarded to the Delhi government for its comments. 





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