Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving 26/11 terrorist, has sought mercy from the president, almost a fortnight after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.
“Last week, Kasab was given a certified copy of the Supreme Court verdict. Another copy of the verdict with Kasab’s signature was returned to the court,” an officer from the Arthur Road jail said.
Kasab is currently lodged in this high-security jail. “Following the verdict, he was explained the options before him, including that of moving a mercy petition before the president.”
“Article 72 of the Constitution allows the president to grant clemency. But
there is no time limit to decide on
the mercy petition,” advocate Ujjwal Nikam said.
“But Kasab’s case is exceptional as he waged a war against the government of India. I would request the president to decide on his plea at the earliest. This will reinstate peoples’ faith in the judiciary,” Nikam said.
But things might not be so simple. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has gone on the record to say Kasab’s petition would get top priority. But his predecessor P Chidambaram had categorically said all mercy petitions would be dealt with chronologically.
Ministry officials, however, maintained that the president could dispose of any plea that he thinks fit. Former president Pratibha Patil had sat on mercy petitions, including that of Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack.
It is well-known that Guru’s case is a sensitive one. A decision in his favour or against him — either one will have ramifications in J&K. In Kasab’s case there is no such thing.
Kasab and nine other terrorists killed 166 people, including foreigners and policemen, when they attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008. While nine were killed in gun battle with security forces, Kasab was caught alive at Girgaum Chowpatty.