The horrific gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi prompted activist Vivek Velankar to seek information about mercy petitions of convicts in such cases. So far, his efforts have failed to bear fruit.
Vivek filed an RTI application with the President’s secretariat and ministry of home affairs in Delhi seeking details in rape and murder cases that took place between 2010 and 2012. However, while the former said they don’t have the records anymore, the latter refused to reveal them, terming this info as ‘privileged’.
“Three to four such mercy petition cases had gone to Rashtrapati Bhavan between 2010 and 2012. Ethically, this information should have been published by the home department on their own.”
Velankar has now decided to file his first appeal with the joint secretary, ministry of home affairs. “If I get the same reply, I’ll approach Central Information Commission,” he said.
According to Velankar, under section 8 (1) of RTI Act, information can be disclosed in such matters after the decision gets finalised by ministers in the assembly. “Who has been getting the benefit of mercy petition becomes a public information after the decision,” he opined.
In reply to Velankar, the under secretary of ministry of home affairs, has stated that the facts were privileged under Article 74 (2) in the Constitution, and hence cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act.
Earlier, Saurabh Vijay, Central Public Information Officer, President’s Secretariat (RTI section), stated that the mercy petition record was sent to the ministry of home affairs after the pleas had been decided by the President. “We don’t have any record of the same between the periods mentioned in the application.”
9 Total mercy petition cases of death row convicts pending before the President