Rajoana mercy petition to be examined: HM

New Delhi: The Home Ministry will examine on merit the mercy petition of Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced to death for assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, and it will be submitted to the President for a final decision.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said Rajoana`s mercy petition filed by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee has come to the Home Ministry two days ago and has been added to the list of mercy petitions of condemned prisoners. "We will examine it on merit and submit to the President of India," he said.

Chidambaram said execution of a condemned prisoner has to be stayed once a mercy petition is filed before the President and it should be kept in abeyance till a decision is taken on the prayer.

He said guidelines in this regard were very clear. Once a mercy petition is filed on behalf of a sentenced prisoner, the sentence cannot be executed unless there is a decision on the mercy petition.

"So, when we got the copy of the mercy petition (of Rajoana) from the President`s Secretariat, we immediately drew the attention of the government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and the instructions. By drawing the attention of government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and instructions, does not mean the Home Ministry is expressing any opinion on the merits of the mercy petition," he said.

The Home Minister refused to comment on alleged politics being played on Rajoana`s mercy petition but said a mercy petition filed on behalf of a condemned prisoner should be treated equally like the mercy petition filed by a condemned prisoner.

Chidambaram said during his tenure as a Home Minister, he has received 33 mercy petitions and all but one have been submitted to the President for decisions. "I think all mercy petitions are submitted, re-submitted to the President. There is only one mercy petition that is pending in the Ministry out of the total of 33 including what I got after I took over," he said.

He said 32 mercy petitions have been submitted or re-submitted to the President and the President has taken a decision in 15 cases which is a record — record for any President or for any period of three years. The Home Minister said mercy petition of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru was still pending before the President for a final decision.