Calcutta, Aug. 10: Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who raped and killed teenager Hetal Parekh, will be hanged at 4.30 am on August 14 in Alipore Central Jail, the day he was born 41 years ago.
Exactly a week after the President turned down a mercy petition on behalf of Dhananjoy, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government announced the time and date for the hanging.
“We have finalised the date and time,” the inspector-general of prisons, Joydeb Chakraborty, said.
Chakraborty, however, refused to comment when asked why the convict was going to be hanged on his birthday. “I shall not speak on what led us to decide on this particular date,” he said.
Dhananjoy’s elder brother, Gangadhar Chatterjee, said from the family home in Bankura today: “August 14 is dear to us as it is Dhananjoy’s birthday. If he is hanged on that day, the government will make that one special day inauspicious for us for the rest of our lives.”
This evening, Dhananjoy, who had been hoping for another lifeline from the court, was informed of his fate by jail officials.
“How can this happen to me'” Dhananjoy asked. “My brother is moving the Supreme Court and I am still hopeful of an outcome in my favour.”
Till late tonight, a team of lawyers led by Colin Gonsalves, which is fighting Dhananjoy’s case, was drafting a petition to be submitted in the Supreme Court tomorrow. “The decision of the government to announce a date at such short notice goes against the jail code,” said advocate Jaymalya Bagchi, who has fought the case in Calcutta High Court.
“No matter how many times a mercy petition has been rejected, the mandatory 21-day gap has to be maintained,” he said.
Yesterday, the judicial department had clarified that the government could fix “any date, any time” as the mandatory three-week interval between announcement of the date of hanging and the execution no longer applied in this case.
“We have checked the legal provisions, and there is no reason to wait. The spirit of the law is that a minimum of three weeks ought to be given to a convict so that he or his family members have adequate time to make mercy petitions. However, this is not applicable here since the convict has already exhausted all the options of making such petitions,” a senior judicial department official said.
Dhananjoy’s family members would be allowed to witness the execution, provided their plea is accepted by the superintendent of Alipore Central Jail. “According to the law, the superintendent will take into consideration whether the family members are mentally strong enough to witness the hanging,” Chakraborty said.
The state government initiated the process of hanging following an intimation last Thursday from the Union home ministry that the President had turned down the mercy plea.
The district magistrate of South 24-Parganas (in whose jurisdiction Alipore Central Jail lies) or his representative must be present along with a medical officer at the hanging.