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Death row convict gets reprieve, Gawhati HC stays execution

September 14, 2011 18:00 IST

After the three killers of Rajiv Gandhi, another death row convict Mahendra Nath Das got some reprieve on Wednesday when Gauhati high court stayed his execution till November 1 on his plea similar to that made by them.

Das contended there was a 12 year delay in disposal of his petition seeking clemency from President. A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice M B Lokur and Justice K Meruno stayed the execution after hearing the petition filed by Das.

Das in his petition claimed that the delay in disposal of his plea was in violation of Article 21 on protection of life and personal liberty which states "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law."

On August 30, the three Rajiv killers--Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan--on death row got a reprieve from the Madras high court which stayed their execution for eight weeks. They were due to be hanged on September 9.

The three men contended there had been a delay of over 11 years in the disposal of their petitions seeking Presidential clemency.

Their lawyers including Ram Jethmalani submitted that the "inordinate and inexplainable delay" in disposing of their mercy petitions violated Article 21 of the Constitution (Protection of life and personal liberty).

On June 7, the Gauhati high court had stayed the hanging of Das after his mother had filed a writ petition.

After the stay, the victim's son petitioned the court on August 3 stating his family had suffered as much as that of Das because of the murder.

Subsequently on September 8, the court had rejected the writ filed by Das's mother Kusumbala as untenable. The death sentence was awarded in 1997 and a petition was filed against it, but in 1999 both the high court and Supreme Court upheld the execution order.

Das then filed a mercy petition in June 1999 before the President, but after twelve years it was rejected.

Das was convicted for beheading a person named Hara Kanta Das at Fancy Bazar in Guwahati on April 24, 1996, and then surrendering before the police with the victim's head.

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