In the backdrop of simmering outrage in the society over the unabated increase in sexual crimes committed against women and children, President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that child rapists should not have the right to file mercy petitions.

In the backdrop of simmering outrage in the society over the unabated increase in sexual crimes committed against women and children, President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that child rapists should not have the right to file mercy petitions.

The President said, “Women safety is a serious issue. The attacks happening on daughters have shaken the soul of the country. Rape convicts under the POCSO Act should not have the right to file mercy petition. They do not need any such rights. This is an issue which needs to be discussed by the Parliament”

He was addressing National Convention on Empowerment of Women for Social Transformation organized by Brahmakumaris at Sirohi, Rajasthan (Watch video from 20:00 minutes for the portion on mercy petitions).

Watch LIVE as President Kovind addresses the National Convention on Empowerment of Women for Social Transformation at Sirohi, Rajasthan https://t.co/viBfFdFAoY— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) December 6, 2019

Meanwhile, it was reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended the rejection of mercy petition filed by Vinay Sharma, one of the death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape-murder case.

President’s ‘mercy jurisdiction’ is a constitutionally conferred power. As per Article 72 of the Constitution, the President has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishments. 

For convicts facing death gallows, ‘mercy petition’ – application seeking President’s pardon under Article 72 – is the last resort to avoid capital punishment. This power is exercised by the President on the aid and advise of the Union Government, based on the recommendations from the concerned State Government. 

In 2014, the Supreme Court held in V Sriharan @ Murugan v Union of India case that long and inordinate delay in deciding mercy petitions is a ground to commute death penalty.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was recently amended by the Parliament in the 2019 monsoon session to provide for death penalty for “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” on children.

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