Afzal denied opportunity to challenge rejection of mercy plea: Lawyer

Rajiv Gandhi’s Killers Informed 28 Days Before Hanging, Got Court Stay; Case Still In SC

UMER MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Feb 15: Afzal Guru’s counsel ND Pancholi Friday said that Guru was denied opportunity to challenge the rejection of his mercy petition by keeping him and his counsels in dark over the rejection of the petition.
“As per the rules, Afzal, his wife and his counsels should have been communicated that his mercy petition has been rejected, but the Government did not inform anybody. Had we been informed, we would have advised Guru and his family to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court,” Pancholi told Greater Kashmir over phone from New Delhi.
Ironically, Afzal’s family was communicated about rejection of his mercy petition on February 11 - two days after his execution in a secretive manner at Tihar Jail.
Pancholi, who along with Nandita Haksar had prepared the mercy petition filed by Afzal’s wife before the President in 2006, said the convicts in the killing of Rajiv Gandhi were allowed to challenge the rejection of their mercy plea in 2011, but Guru was denied the same opportunity.
It is pertinent to mention here that three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi killing case obtained stay on their execution after they came to know that their mercy petitions had been rejected.
The trio was informed that their mercy petitions stand rejected and their hanging was scheduled 28 days later. After getting enough time, they challenged the rejection of mercy petitions. The Madras High Court granted an eight-week stay on their execution, 11 days before their scheduled hanging. The case is presently being heard by the Supreme Court.
Pancholi also accused Government of India of violating fundamental principles of justice by executing Guru without informing his family.
“We never thought that they would act in such a cheap manner,” he said. Pancholi said the question of hanging is a public issue and why did not they inform the nation even as Supreme Court sentenced him to death for ‘satisfying the collective conscience of the nation.’
Recalling his last meeting with Guru in Tihar Jail about 20 days ago, Pancholi said: “I met him as I was worried about him in the wake of secret hanging of Ajmal Kasab, but Afzal was calm and there was not a bit of nervousness on his face.”
The lawyer and civil rights activist asserted that he would often meet Afzal after co-authoring his mercy petition in 2006.
Pertinently, Afzal was against filing of mercy petition saying that he had lost faith in the institutions of government; however his wife Tabasum filed a petition to then President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006.
Pancholi, who met Guru more than 30 times over these years, is all praise for him. “Afzal was very honest and truthful person,” Pancholi says.
He says Afzal was concerned about his motherland and wanted a just solution of Kashmir issue.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST




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