Pratibha commuted death sentence of 35 people

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil has commuted the death sentence of 35 people to life imprisonment, the highest by the country`s any head of state in three decades. However, the first woman President of the country rejected mercy petitions of five people who had committed heinous crime, including the assassins of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said the President commuted the death sentence of 35 people involved in 19 cases. Among those whose mercy petitions were accepted are those convicted of mass murder, kidnapping, rape and killing of children. On June 2, Patil gave her pardon to four more Bandu Baburao Tidke from Karnataka, Buntu from Uttar Pradesh and Lalchand alias Laliya Dhoom and Shiv Lal from Rajasthan.

As a swami of Sadashiva Appana Math, Bagalkot, Tidke abducted a 16-year-old schoolgirl, raped and murdered her. UP`s Bantu, on death row since July 2008, was convicted of raping and killing a five-year-old girl.

On February 9, she accepted the clemency petition of Sushil Murmu, pending since 2004, who was convicted for giving `bali` (sacrifice) of a nine-year-old-boy in Jharkhand for his own prosperity. Since 1981, 91 convicts sought commutation of their death sentences to life imprisonment. Of these, 31 petitions were accepted, out of which 23 were during Patil`s five-year tenure.