Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HC upholds death sentence for Mahendra

TNN | Jan 31, 2012, 07.39AM IST

GUWAHATI: The Gauhati high court on Monday upheld its previous order of a death sentence for murder convict Mahendra Das, after keeping the verdict reserved for a week, and dismissed his plea to convert the death sentence to life imprisonment.

However, Mahendra is going to move the Supreme Court once again in the case.

Last Monday, the high court concluded the hearing in the case and reserved the verdict. Mahendra in his writ petition prayed to the high court to convert his death sentence into lifetime imprisonment since he has already spent about 14 years in jail awaiting the disposal of his petition seeking presidential clemency.

On April 24, 1996, Mahendra Das beheaded Harakanta Das in Fancy Bazar area of the city and surrendered to the police with the victim's head. He was arrested and has been in jail since 1997. The sessions court later ordered his execution in 1998.

The Gauhati high court in 1998 and the Supreme Court in 1999 upheld capital punishment in the case. In 1999, Mahendra's family moved a mercy petition to the then President K R Narayanan. After almost 12 years, the plea was finally turned down in May 2011 by present President Pratibha Patil, setting the stage for Mahendra's hanging.

"The division bench of chief justice A K Goel and justice C R Sarma today dismissed the writ petition filed by Mahendra Das where he prayed to convert his death sentence into lifetime imprisonment on the grounds of delay in disposal of his mercy petition by the President. We argued that the delay does not entail quashing the sentence and converting it into life imprisonment," said Bhaskar Dev Konwar, the counsel of Amal Das, son of Harakanta Das.

The assistant solicitor general of India (Gauhati high court), Randeep Sarma, added, "The delay in disposal of the mercy petition by the President can't be considered a cause for commuting the judgment. It is the President's discretionary power. We have submitted all the documents relating to the case before the court in this time period."

Happy with the judgment of the high court, Amal Das said, "It is sad that Mahendra's aged mother has to witness her son's death, but we have gone through the same. I have seen my father's gruesome death at Mahendra's hands."

On September 8, 2011, a division bench of the high court had rejected a petition filed by the convict's mother, Kusumbala Das, for commuting her son's death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground that Mahendra's mother had no locus standi to file it on behalf of her son.

On the other hand, unhappy with the verdict, Arup Borbora, the counsel of Mahendra Das, said they would move the Supreme Court in the case.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/HC-upholds-death-sentence-for-Mahendra/articleshow/11694957.cms
accessed on 31st January 2012

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