President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected 97% of the mercy petitions since assuming the top office in 2012, a human rights watch group has said, stressing that death penalty has failed to act as a deterrent in the country.
Mukherjee, who assumed office on July 25, 2012, considered 23 mercy pleas involving 31 death-row convicts out of which only one was granted mercy as on August 31, 2014, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) said in its report titled 'India: Death penalty has no deterrence'.
The Delhi-based ACHR is a non-governmental organisation engaged in protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Asian region.
Mukherjee's decisions are in sharp contrast to those of his predecessor Pratibha Patil, who granted a record 30 pardons, over 90 per cent of India's total death sentences pardoned ever. She rejected only two mercy pleas during her tenure.
Mostly awarded in murder cases, death penalty is now also given to repeat offenders in rape cases.
ACHR Director Suhas Chakma, however, said that high number of death penalty has not brought down crime rate.
"The empirical evidence of the government of India, however, establishes that death penalty does not act as deterrent," said Chakma, who is also coordinator of the national campaign for abolition of death penalty in India.
The ACHR said the government should "amend all the laws that provide death penalty" and replace the same with life imprisonment.
Source: The Hindustan Times, Sept. 1, 2014