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Rights rap on lost mercy plea

Guwahati, March 3: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today directed the Union home ministry to submit a status report on the lost mercy petition of Holiram Bordoloi of Assam in four weeks.

Bordoloi, one of the accused in the killing of three persons at Nayagaon under Boribazar outpost in Morigaon district on November 26, 1996, was given a death sentence by a sessions judge, Morigaon, on May 5, 2003.

The director of Asian Centre for Human Rights, Suhas Chakma, told this correspondent that the mercy petition of condemned prisoner Bordoloi was forwarded to the President (vide letter No. PRI.826 dated April 18, 2005) and to the judicial department of the Assam government on June 17, 2005.

Though a reply received from the office of the inspector-general of prisons, Assam (vide letter dated July 9 in 2013), stated that the mercy petition is still pending with the President, the “list of mercy petition cases since 1981” received by the President from the Union home ministry (vide letter dated March 28, 2013) does not bear the name of Holiram.

The development establishes that the mercy petition of Bordoloi had been lost and was not considered at all in the past nine years, Chakma said.

“The loss of mercy petition of condemned prisoner Holiram Bordoloi once again establishes the absolute callousness of the central government while considering mercy pleas. This blatant abuse of power given to the President must be adjudicated by the judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. Further, accountability for gross dereliction of duty and shameful acts such as losing mercy petitions must be established,” Chakma said.

Chakma demanded that the death sentence of Holiram be commuted to life imprisonment in the light of a judgment of the Supreme Court on January 21, 2014.