Even as the clamour for death sentence of rapists is growing in the country, former President Pratibha Patil had on Centre's recommendations commuted death sentences of 35 convicts which included seven rapists.
Patil has come in for criticism for having commuted the death penalty against the backdrop of outrage over the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year old paramedical student in the capital.
Officials said the President in exercise of powers under Article 72 of the Constitution relating to the power to grant clemency is not supposed to act on her own judgement but is mandated to act in accordance of aid and advice of the Government which is binding.
Thus, the power to pardon is a part of Constitutional scheme of things and not a private act of grace on the part of the President, they said.
In all these cases, the Home Ministry has examined the mitigating and extenuating circumstances and spelt out specific reasons for advice after consulting the Law ministry, they clarified.
Patil commuted capital punishment of Bandu Baburao Tidake fiver years after his death in Belgaum prison in 2007 of AIDS.
Tidake was a self-styled practitioner of occult sciences who had raped and murdered a 16-year old girl at Bagalkot, Karnataka in 2002.
Tidake had appealed to the High Court in December 2005 against the sessions court judgement but the death penalty was confirmed by High Court and the Supreme Court.
Another case was of Bantu of Uttar Pradesh who had raped and murdered a five-year old girl in 2003 in Agra. The girl who had come to a Devi Jagran along with his uncle was lured by her neighbour Bantu.
She was taken to hospital but succumbed to her injuries on the way. Bantu was convicted and remained on death row since 2008 till pardoned by Patil in June 2012.
Patil commuted death sentence of Satish from Uttar Pradesh who had raped and murdered a six-year old girl in Meerut in May 2012.