The Supreme Court today commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence awarded to murder convict Mahendra Nath Das, whose mercy petition was rejected by then President Pratibha Patil.
A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi allowed the plea of Das who had approached the apex court for commutation of his death sentence on the ground that the President had taken eleven years to decide his mercy plea.
The apex court, which had refused to grant similar relief to Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea, however, commuted the death sentence of Mahendra Das to life imprisonment.
Mahendra Das, while out on bail in another case, had beheaded one Harakanta Das at Fancy Bazaar in Assam and surrendered with the victim’s head on 24 April 1996 and in 1997, the sessions court there had sentenced him to death.
His conviction and sentence were subsequently upheld by the Gauhati High Court in 1998 and the Supreme Court in 1999.
He had moved in 1999 a mercy plea, which remained pending for eleven years before the President and was rejected in 2011.
Mahendra Das had then filed a writ petition in the apex court pleading for commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment since he had already spent about 14 years in jail during the disposal of his petition seeking presidential clemency.