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Haryana govt gets official confirmation to hang couple amid SC stay on all executions

In the midst of a Supreme Court order staying the execution of all convicts on death row,the Haryana government has been caught in a legal quandary over the fate of two such prisoners after receiving a reference,detailing the rejection of the mercy plea filed by the duo,from the President’s office.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
Updated: April 9, 2014 5:35:58 pm

In the midst of a Supreme Court order staying the execution of all convicts on death row,the Haryana government has been caught in a legal quandary over the fate of two such prisoners after receiving a reference,detailing the rejection of the mercy plea filed by the duo,from the President’s office.

While the mercy petition of Sonia and her husband Sanjeev was rejected in April,the state government received an official confirmation only on Thursday. Sonia — the daughter of former Haryana MLA Relu Ram Punia — and Sanjeev were convicted in 2007 for killing eight members of her family,including her father,over a property dispute in 2001.

Unsure on how to proceed,the state government has now referred the matter to its legal cell. “Though the Supreme Court has stayed executions of convicts on death row,but since this reference has come to us now,we shall have to examine it legally. We have no other option but to follow the orders. Since state governments are the ones that should notify the date of execution,we shall have to examine the matter thoroughly,” a senior official said.

Sources added that the state has initiated preliminary formalities of informing Sonia and Sanjeev about their execution and is in the process of intimating their families as well. “All these are procedures that are required to be followed as per the norms. The intimations shall go to the convicts and their family members. The engineer takes three-four days to examine and clear the equipment which is to be used for hanging. A medical officer will be required to give a fitness certificate of the convicts. While we will follow all this,we will also have to seek the legal status on it from our legal cell,” the officer added.

Sonia and Sanjeev were among the eight convicts on death row,whose mercy petitions were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee in April,this year. They are currently lodged in Ambala jail.

The state has another convict,Dharampal,on death row. The reference on his mercy plea,however,landed before the Supreme Court order. This has also put the state government in a bind leaving it unsure of how to proceed.

In April,the Supreme Court had granted the respite to the convicts and sought replies from the Centre and state governments after admitting a petition filed by the civil rights group People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR).

PUDR said a proper system must be evolved by the SC,making it mandatory that all executions could be carried out only after 60 days of such communication and to further direct the Centre to contemporaneously display the file movements of all mercy petitions and their rejection or acceptance by the President on the official website of the President’s office.

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