PRESIDENT Pranab Mukherjee has rejected the mercy petition of Shabnam, a teacher from Amroha district whose death sentence along with her lover Saleem’s was upheld by the Supreme Court in May this year for killing seven members of her family, including her 10-month old nephew, in April 2008.
Shabnam is lodged in Moradabad district jail, and Saleem in Central Jail, Bareilly.
Shabnam, a double MA (in English and Geography) who taught at the village primary school, had sent two separate mercy petitions to the President of India and Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik in June 2015. Naik had rejected her petition in September last year.
According to the President of India’s website, Shabnam’s mercy plea was rejected on August 7. The website says the President’s secretariat had received a recommendation from the Union Home Ministry in this regard on March 31.
Specifying that they received a letter two days ago from Shabnam’s Delhi-based lawyer, Himanshu Agarwal, stating that President Mukherjee has rejected Shabnam’s mercy petition, Moradabad district jail superintendent B R Verma said, “We have not received any official intimation (about rejection of the plea).”
Verma said the letter requested that since the review petition in the murder case is pending in the SC, the death sentence should not be executed.
Verma said Shabnam had sought pardon on the grounds that she had responsibilities towards her son Taj, who was born in Moradabad jail, and was at the time staying with her. In the mercy petition, she claimed innocence and alleged that her family was murdered over a property dispute, Verma said.
In August last year, Taj was handed over to Shabnam’s friend Usman Saifi for foster care – the jail manual mandates that women inmates cannot keep children after they turn six.
Saleem, the friend with whom she had had an affair and with whom she killed her family members since they were opposed to their relationship, was earlier lodged at Central Jail, Agra, before being moved to Bareilly jail about a year ago. Agra jail official said Saleem had sent a mercy petition to the President on the ground that he was innocent. The petition is still pending, a jail official said.
Shabnam and Saleem had been arrested on April 19, 2008 – four days after they killed Shabnam’s father Shaukat Ali (55), mother Hashmi (50), elder brother Anees (35), Anees’s wife Anjum (25), younger brother Rashid (22), cousin Rabia (14), and Arsh, Anees’s 10-month-old son.