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The Delhi Government has rejected the mercy plea of Mukesh, one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. The mercy plea was then sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs via Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who accepted the recommendation of the Delhi government.

The MHA will now send it to the President with its own recommendation, possibly by today evening. The ultimate decision on granting mercy to death-row convict lies with President Ram Nath Kovind as per Article 72.

The Delhi Home Ministry will now send it to the President with its own recommendation. The ultimate decision on granting mercy to the death-row convict lies with President Ram Nath Kovind.

The Delhi High Court yesterday refused to entertain a petition by Mukesh Kumar, one of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya case, challenging a sessions court order fixing the date of his hanging in Tihar jail on January 22, 2020. But the city government said he could not be executed since his mercy plea is pending.

Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.

The President can either accept or reject the mercy plea. However, the Constitution doesn’t provide for a specified time limit to accept/reject the mercy petition. After the withdrawal of the mercy petition by one of the convicts in the case Vinay Sharma, who had filed it earlier, the President has no mercy petition pending before him.

In the five years tenure of former President Mukerjee had cleared as many as 32 mercy petitions – perhaps the highest number of mercy petitions cleared by any President of India in recent times. Of the 32 mercy petitions cleared, 28 were rejected by the President.
The last execution was in 2015, when Yakub Memon, was hanged to death for his involvement in a 1993 bombing in Mumbai.

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