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Prez office studying Afzal Guru mercy petition

New Delhi: The mercy plea of decade-old Parliament attack case convict Mohd Afzal Guru was among 14 other such applications pending decision by President Pratibha Patil.

Replying to an RTI query, the President Secretariat declined to disclose copies of correspondence and file notings related to Guru`s clemency petition, saying they were "records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, secretaries and other officers".

The President`s office had received a total of 27 mercy pleas, including the one from three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, between 2008 and 2011. Of them, three were rejected and death sentence to 10 others was commuted to life imprisonment. 14 other pleas were pending decision, it said.

The President had on March 14, this year rejected the application filed by T Suthethiraja, Sriharan and G Perarivalan convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

"The mercy petition of Mohd Afzal Guru is still under consideration of the President," the secretariat said in response to an RTI query filed by PTI.

It said that further information "is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (i) of the RTI Act."

The section bars disclosure of "Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, secretaries and other officers".

According to the reply, there was "no prescribed time limit" in deciding the mercy applications.

The mercy pleas pending with the President`s Secretariat include those convicted for grave crimes like rape and murder of a minor girl and mass killings.

Guru had moved his mercy application after he was convicted by the trial court and his sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000.

As per the procedures, the Home Ministry and the Delhi government had sent their views over the matter to the Secretariat.

The Home Ministry had sent its opinion in Guru`s case on June 21, 2005 which was called back for review on February 23, this year and was again submitted on August 8.

12 people had been killed and several others were injured during the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001.

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