8 August : There is no prescribed procedure for dealing with mercy petitions under Article 72 of the Constitution which deals with the President’s power to grant pardon and to suspend, remit or commute death sentences, the Home Ministry has told the Central Information Commission.
The information was disclosed by the Ministry during a hearing on a RTI plea seeking details of the procedure for examining mercy petitions of prisoners."There is no written down procedure followed for examining petitions under Article 72 which could have been provided to appellant," MHA Joint Secretary Shashi Bhushan said.
Not satisfied with the response given by the Ministry on the procedure followed by it to deal with mercy petitions before the convict’s plea is forwarded to the President, the Commission directed the Government to provide a comprehensive reply to the Mumbai-based RTI applicant, Vats Raj, within a specified period.
"From the arguments submitted in the hearing, it is clear that not all the information held by the MHA has been provided," the Commission said.
The Ministry also said that it is not considering any proposal to review and revamp the procedure to speed up the process of dealing with mercy petitions.
The Commission ordered that the information must be disclosed with regard to those mercy petitions which are pending with the MHA and have not yet submitted to the President’s Secretariat.
Raj had sought directions to the Ministry to disclose all information regarding the procedure followed by the government in dealing with mercy petitions.
He had also sought information on the number of such petitions pending in the Ministry and the time taken by it to forward them to the President.
"The procedure for examining mercy petitions by the MHA for sending recommendations to the President without delays is of official importance as it involves maintaining a fine balance between individual’s life and the imperative need to award appropriate punishment for heinous crimes," he contended. Courtsey DDINEWS