Where whole nation is demanding the death punishment to rapists, the Ex-President and first women president of India Pratibha Patil has pardoned five rapists in her tenure. In cases where the rapists have murdered their victims, only one convict has been hanged in the last eight years. Since Dhananjoy Chatterjee of West Bengal was hanged in 2004, 25 killer-rapists sentenced to death have obtained the President’s pardon. Dhananjoy had raped and murdered Hetal Parekh, 14, in 1990 was hanged on August 14, 2004.
No President in India’s history has used the power to pardon death-row inmates as extensively as President Patil. She has granted a record of 30 pardons in the last 28 months, over 90 per cent of India’s total death sentences pardoned ever. But 22 of those relate to brutal multiple murders and gruesome crimes on children, the worst of what human beings can do to one another.
Among those pardoned, Moloi Ram and Santosh Yadav of Madhya Pradesh had been on death row since 1999 after the Supreme Court confirmed their death sentence for raping and murdering the young daughter of an official of the jail where one of them worked as a guard and where the other was serving a term. Twice – in May 2001 and May 2005 – the home ministry recommended to the President that their mercy petition be rejected. On February 4, 2011, then President Pratibha Patil accepted the mercy petition and turned the death sentences into life terms without parole.
Also spared was Bandu Baburao Tideke, a self-syled swami, who had abducted a 16-year-old schoolgirl and raped and murdered her. Uttar Pradesh’s Bantu was on death row since July 2008, having been convicted of raping and killing a five-year-old girl. On June 2 this year, the President accepted his mercy petition. Another UP resident, Satish, who was convicted of the 2001 rape and murder of a six-year-old, was given the presidential pardon under Article 72.
In June 2010, the nation reacted with visceral revulsion when Dharmender Singh and Narendra Yadav of Uttar Pradesh were pardoned. In 1994, they had wiped out a family of five, including a 15-year-old girl. Narendra had tried to rape her a few days before, failing which he conspired with Dharmender to teach the family a lesson: Three people were beheaded while a 10-year-old boy was tossed alive into the fire.