PDP accuses Supreme Court of death penalty bias towards Kashmir Valley
People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti has questioned the country's judicial system for having different parameters while dealing with death penalty cases for rest of India and those in Jammu and Kashmir
Objecting to the Supreme Court's decision to commute the death sentences of convicts involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to life terms, Mehbooba Mufti said: "Somewhere or the other, we can see two sides of our country India. One is for the rest of the country, and the second is for Jammu and Kashmir. We are differentiated in every aspect. Be it the executive or the judiciary, it feels like everybody has united and pushed the people of Jammu and Kashmir further away."
In India, about 500 people are on death row, many of them for years.
In November 2012, India ended what many rights groups had interpreted as an undeclared moratorium on capital punishment when it executed Ajmal Kasab, who was convicted for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Three months later, it hanged Afzal Guru for the 2001 militant attack on parliament.
Afzal Guru was awarded death sentence by a Delhi court on December 18, 2002 after being convicted for the parliament attacks in New Delhi in 2001 and was hanged secretly in February last year after his final appeal on mercy was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Mufti also said: "Be it the government of Punjab or of Tamil Nadu, both took up the issue of death sentences given to the convicts of their state with the central government. So, once again the message that has gone across in Jammu and Kashmir, and specifically in the valley, is that there is always some kind of discrimination in play. Be it a matter of justice, laws or issues of democratic concern."
The death penalty remains in force in India despite a long campaign by human rights groups to abolish it. It has rarely been carried out, however.
The Supreme Court said on Tuesday the administration must move faster on deciding on mercy petitions in the interest of justice.
(Posted on 19-02-2014)