President commutes death of 4 to life term

President commutes death of 4 to life term

Four men, convicted of killing 34 upper-caste Bhumihars in Bihar 25 years ago, will not be hanged as President Pranab Mukherjee has commuted their death sentences to life imprisonment, setting aside a recommendation from the home ministry.

Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh escaped the noose after Mukherjee considered their mercy petitions and decided to commute the death sentence to life term.

The convicts were awarded the death sentence in 2001 by a sessions court in connection with the 1992 killing of 34 Bhumihars by members of the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC, now CPI-Maoist).

The Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence in 2002, by a majority judgement of 2:1. However, Justice M B Shah dissented with such an award.

Endorsing the Bihar government’s decision to not grant mercy, the home ministry had in August last year recommended that their plea to commute the death sentence be rejected.

However, the President said that the delay in handing over the mercy petitions by the state government and the observations made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), among others, need to be considered before taking a decision.

The NHRC had last year said that after an “analysis of the facts and materials placed before the commission, it emerges that the four convicts in question had submitted their mercy petitions prior to 07.07.2004”.

It is clear from the admission of the Inspector General (Prisons and Correctional Services) of Bihar that the mercy petitions of the four convicts were forwarded to the secretariat of the President through the home department vide letter dated 07.07.2004, it said.

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