President Ram Nath Kovind rejects his first mercy plea

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New Delhi, May 30: In his first since he assumed office, President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected a mercy petition. The plea was of Jagat Rai who was convicted of killing seven members of a family in Bihar in 2006.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the President sought legal opinion and consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs before rejecting Rai’s plea.
The report added that Rai’s mercy petition was initially filed in 2017 with the then President Pranab Mukherjee. But since the process to elect the 14th President had already been initiated, Mukherjee could not take any decision on Rai’s mercy plea.
According to media reports, Rai had set a house on fire killing five children and the wife of one Vijendra Mahato, against whom Rai held a grudge. Mahato had sustained serious burns and he died of the injuries later. The incident had taken place on the night of January 1, 2006, at Rampur Shyamchand village in Vaishali district of Bihar.
Mahato had earlier filed a case with the local police accusing Jagat Rai of stealing his buffalo, and refused to withdraw the complaint.
The Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence for Rai in September 2013, saying the gravity of offence was such that this case fell into the category of “rarest of rare” cases.
While this is the first time President Kovind has rejected a mercy plea since assuming office in July 2017, his predecessor Mukherjee had rejected a total of 30 mercy pleas.
The executions that took place Mukherjee’s tenure include that of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasav, whose mercy pleas the former President had rejected.
The record of rejecting most mercy petitions rests with former President R Venkataraman (1987-92) who is said to have rejected 45 pleas. (Agencies)