The petitioner, advocate P Pugalenthi, director of Prisoners’ Rights Forum and an activist against death sentence, argued that Afzal Guru was executed in a hurried manner under the cloak of secrecy within five days of the petition being rejected. There was an inordinate delay of seven years in the execution of the death sentence, as the mercy petition was pending. The Supreme Court has held such long delay to be ground for seeking commutation of the death sentence, he said in his petition.
Stating his apprehension that the nearly 20 convicts, whose mercy petitions are pending before the President, could also be sent to the gallows in a secret and hurried manner, Pugalenthi said it would be against democratic principles and in violation of Constitutional rights.
S Nalini, AG Perarivalan, Sriharan, and Santhan, were awarded capital punishment for their role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court.
While Nalini’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, mercy petitions filed by others were pending before the President for over a decade before it was rejected mid last year. They were to be executed on September 9, 2012, but a division bench of the court granted an interim stay on the executions.