SC commutes death penalty of Assam murder convict

Das had approached the apex court for commutation of his death sentence

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:May 2, 2013 3:17 am

Days after it dismissed a plea by Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar over delay in deciding his mercy petition,the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a similar petition by another death row convict and commuted his punishment to life term.

A bench led by Justice G S Singhvi allowed the appeal by a murder convict,Mahendra Nath Das,whose mercy petition was rejected by President Pratibha Patil in 2011. The reasoning for commuting his death sentence,however,is yet to be known as the full text of the verdict was not released on Wednesday.

Das,who is lodged in Jorhat central jail,had approached the apex court for commutation of his death sentence on the ground that Rashtrapati Bhawan had taken over 11 years to decide on his mercy plea.

On April 24,1996,while out on bail in a murder case,Das had beheaded a man named Harakanta Das in Assam and surrendered with the victim’s head. In 1997,a sessions court had sentenced him to death.

His conviction and sentence was subsequently upheld by the Gauhati High Court in 1998 and the Supreme Court in 1999. In 1999,he sent his mercy pleas to both Raj Bhawan and Rashtrapati Bhawan. While the Governor rejected his petition in 2000,Rashtrapati Bhawan kept it pending for over 11 years before rejecting it in 2011.

Last month,Justice Singhvi’s bench had dismissed a plea by Bhullar,who had also sought commutation of his death penalty on the ground of delay. Bhullar’s mercy plea remained pending before Rashtrapati Bhawan for almost six years.

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