Mercy petitions of five death row convicts including Surendra Koli, who was found guilty in the sensational Nithari serial rapes and killings, were today rejected by the Home Ministry.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh signed five files recommending to President Pranab Mukherjee that the mercy pleas of Renukabai and Seema (Maharashtra), Koli (Uttar Pradesh), Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik (Maharashtra), Jagdish (Madhya Pradesh) and Holiram Bordoloi (Assam) should be rejected, official sources said here.
The President, who takes the final call on mercy pleas, can return the cases to the ministry for reconsideration. This can be done only once if he so decides after which he is constitutionally obliged to accept the ministry's decision.
42-year-old Koli, who brutally killed and later axed children in Nithari locality of Noida in UP, was awarded death sentence by a lower court which was upheld by the Allahabad High Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court in February 2011.
In a case that outraged the nation, Koli was found guilty of serial rapes and murders between 2005 and 2006 at his employer, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher's house in Nithari. Remains of several missing children were found near the house.
While 16 cases were filed against Koli, he has been awarded death sentence in four of them so far and others are still under trial.
Out of the five whose mercy petitions were rejected by the government, Mukherjee's office had returned the files of Seema and Renukabai and Jagdish to the Home Ministry for review as the previous government sent them to the President's Secretariat at the fag end of its tenure.
The two sisters, along with their mother and another accomplice Kiran Shinde, kidnapped 13 children between 1990 to 1996 and killed nine of them. However, the prosecution could prove only five murders. The two sisters were given death sentence.
The case against the mother had to be abated as she died in 1997 while Shinde turned an approver in the case.
The two sisters used to kidnap children from localities of poor people in the areas of their operation and force them to commit thefts, lift goods and snatch chains.
But when the children grew old enough to understand things, they were brutally killed. Some were found with their heads smashed, strangulated, thrashed with iron rods and thrown on railway tracks. The Supreme Court had confirmed the death penalty of the two sisters on August 31, 2006.
In January this year, the Supreme Court had ruled that "inordinate and inexplicable" delays in hanging are grounds for commuting a convict's death penalty and had spared 15 death row convicts from execution.
The third case pertains to the gruesome killing of a girl child in village Asra of Maharashtra in which the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik in October 2012 for sexually abusing and murdering the victim.
The Home Ministry also recommended rejection of mercy petition of Jagadish who was convicted for murdering his wife and five children (four daughters and a son, all aged between one and 16 years).
He was sentenced to death by Additional Sessions Judge, Manasa on April 24, 2006. This was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2009.
Jagadish had submitted that he was in an unsound state of mind and that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment as the capital punishment had not been executed for over three years.
However, the apex court said that in Jagdish’s case there was not much of a delay from the time of his conviction till the dismissal of his appeal on September 18, 2009.
The mercy petition of Assam's Holiram Bordoloi, whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005,, has also been recommended for rejection by the Home Minister.
Bordoloi carried out the execution of three men of the same family in a gruesome manner in broadlight in front of the villagers in an effort to protect his supremacy in the village.
On November 26, 1996, Bordoloi, along with 17 others, attacked the hut of Narayan Bordoloi who was staying with his brother, wife and two sons. When Narayan locked the hut from inside, the accused and his men set the hut on fire.
Narayan's brother and elder son tried to escape through a hole in the wall. However, Bordoloi and his men pushed the boy back into the fire. Narayan and his son were charred to death while his wife sustained serious burn injuries.
Bordoloi did not stop at this. He later dragged another brother of Narayan, who was staying nearby, and sliced him into pieces in front of the villagers.