New Delhi: As many as 14 mercy petitions from 18 convicts are pending before President Pranab Mukherjee, following the rejection of a similar plea from Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab who was hanged in Pune on Wednesday morning.

Among the pleas pending is one from Mohammed Afzal Guru, a death row convict in the December 2001 terror attack on the Parliament. This is probably the first mercy plea on which Mukherjee has taken a decision.

As per information available from the home ministry, in response to an RTI query from activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, there were 15 mercy petitions from 19 condemned prisoners under Article 72 of the Constitution till Nov 5, when Mukherjee rejected the petition from Kasab.

One of the mercy pleas submitted in March this year from Balwant Singh Rajoana, killer of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, is also a part of the list. Among the states, Karnataka has the highest number of petitions pending, four from seven convicts on death row.

Haryana and Uttar Pradesh come second, each with two petitions from three condemned prisoners. Delhi has two petitions, including one from Afzal Guru. Uttarakhand, Chandigarh (Rajoana), and Madhya Pradesh have one petition each.

Since 1981, Indian presidents have considered and disposed of 98 mercy petitions, the latest being that of Kasab. Mukerjee's predecessor Pratibha Patil had decided on 39 mercy petitions, of which 35 were for death sentence commutation, during her tenure. These included those charged with serious and barbaric crimes like mass killings, kidnappings and rapes of as many as 22 women and children.

Patil created a record of sorts as far as disposal of clemency pleas is concerned. She rejected the pleas of five convicts that included killers of former premier Rajiv Gandhi and then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.


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