Wednesday was a day of speculations for media and those awaiting decisions on their mercy pleas. Fate of nine people convicted for heinous crimes was to be decided. The President Pranab Mukherjee has upheld the conviction in five of the cases while commuting the death sentence in two others.
The President used the powers bestowed upon him by Article 72 of the constitution. This empowers him to take decisions on matters that deserve the attention of the President. The President now does not have any pending mercy petitions before him.
This swiftness on part of Pranab Mukherjee makes him unique in more than one sense. He is the only President until date who has decided on clemency issues with such swiftness. The office of President has often come under scanner for going slow, when it comes to deciding claims relating to mercy petitions.
In the cases that President Pranab Mukherjee cleared on Wednesday, the home ministry had rejected the mercy pleas in five cases and commuted the rest two to life sentences with a rider that the convicts will have to spend their entire life behind bars.
It has happened on numerous occasions before that home ministry had forwarded the claims to the office of the President. However, the decisions were delayed resulting in legal hassles. President Pranab Mukherjee has laid to rest all such assumptions with his swiftness. This strong signal conveyed by the President has long term implications.
It would send a stern message to those who commit heinous crimes that they will be dealt with firmness and cannot expect to escape the noose of the law. This swiftness was need of the hour, given the rise in crime graph that one is witnessing, almost on a daily basis. Not even a day passed when an incident of rape or murder is reported in the country.
The wrong doers used to roam free with little fear of the law. However, this action of the President is set to change their approach. One will think twice before committing a heinous crime as the fear of the law will prevent them from taking this drastic step.
This swiftness of the current President became evident the day, he took charge of the office. Files that had been moving between home ministry and the office of the President for years were put on top priority. The execution of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru in quick succession was a result of this swiftness shown by the President.
Among the cases disposed of by Pranab Mukherjee was of one Gurmeet Singh of Uttar Pradesh. He was convicted for killing 13 of his family members way back in 1986. The case had been hanging fire since 19686 with the files moving between home ministry and the office of the President.
President Pranab Mukherjee has upheld the honour of his office by acting with such swiftness in matters that deserved his attention. This not only sends a strong signal to the law agencies but also to the criminals who rarely think before committing a crime.