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President will have the last word on Afzal: Sheila Dikshit

Source: PTI
May 24, 2010 18:14 IST
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With questions being raised over the delay in clearing the mercy petition file of death row convict Afzal Guru, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday said it took longer time to take a decision on the issue because of its sensitive nature.

Dikshit also attributed the delay in clearing the Parliament attack convict's file to the opinions given on it by two chief secretaries of her government in which they had raised the issue of law and order implications if the execution is carried out.

Sources said one of them, who had already retired from the post, had opposed carrying out the execution in the city.

"I had said during the (Lok Sabha) election campaign last year that we have not cleared the file because it is a sensitive issue," Dikshit said, replying to a question on the delay of almost four years in clearing the file.

The Delhi government last week sent its views on Guru's mercy petition to Lieutenant Governor Tejendar Khanna with comments that it had no objection to the hanging but its implications on law and order needed to be kept in mind.

Making it clear that the Delhi Government never opposed the Supreme Court verdict on Guru, Dikshit said the President of India will have the last word on the issue.

"I just wanted to clarify that we never had the intention to oppose the Supreme Court verdict (against Guru). We will never do that. Afzal is in jail and he will continue to be in jail...At the end, the President of India will sign on it (mercy petition)," she said. Dikshit said in their notings, both the current and earlier Chief Secretary had "said that it is a sensitive issue and there could be law and order problem in the city (if Guru is hanged here)."

She said that later, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also said that there could be law and order problem there if Guru was hanged. "At the end, there will be two options available -- life imprisonment or hanging," she added.

The BJP has been attacking Dikshit for not clearing the file and accusing her of playing "vote-bank politics" over the issue.

Meanwhile, Lt Governor Khanna said he was studying the file and it will be sent to home ministry soon. The Delhi government had kept the file with it for nearly four years and the capital punishment awarded to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Mumbai attacks case brought the issue under fresh focus.

Guru was awarded death sentence by a Delhi court on December 18, 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack Parliament on December 13, 2001. The death sentence was upheld by Delhi High Court on October 29, 2003 and his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court two years later on August four, 2005.

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