Prez Pranab Mukherjee rejects 2 more mercy pleas as term nears end


NEW DELHI, Jun 18: A month before demitting office, President Pranab Mukherjee rejected mercy petitions in two cases. This brings the total mercy pleas rejected by him to 30. The petitions were rejected in the last week of May.
The first case pertained to the 2012 rape and murder of a four-year old girl in Indore by three men, and the other to the gang rape and murder of a techie in Pune by a cab driver and his accomplice. The two cases were forwarded to the President in April and May.
In the Indore case, the three convicts — Babu alias Ketan (22 years old at the time of the crime), Jitendra alias Jitu (20) and Devendra alias Sunny (22) — were found guilty of kidnapping, raping and killing a four-year old while she was watching a wedding procession.
After sexually assaulting her, the accused had strangled the victim to death and dumped her body in a drain.
In the Pune case, convicts Purushottam Dasharath Borate and Pradeep Yashvant Kokade were awarded the death penalty for raping and killing a 22-year-old Wipro employee in 2007.
Among the other mercy petitions rejected by President Mukherjee over his five-year tenure are those of 26/11 Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab in November 2012, 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in February 2013, and 1993 Bombay blasts convict Yakub Memon in July 2015. He has also commuted to life the death sentences of four convicts, the last being in January.
There is no fixed time for the President to decide on a mercy plea. Pratibha Patil demitted office without taking a decision on any of the mercy pleas before her.
President Pranab Mukherjee today lamented the lack of healthcare infrastructure and personnel in the country, particularly in the rural area, and expressed hope more investments would help bridge the gap.
After laying the foundation stone for a super speciality hospital in here, he said creating better health infrastructure through investments has helped cure many diseases but “there remains a huge gap yet”.
The president said, the country requires not only accessible but affordable medical facilities.
“Against the international norm of a doctor per thousand population, we have one doctor for 1,700 people in our country,” he rued.
“No civilised society can tolerate this,” he said.
The situation is more alarming in rural India where the shortage of surgeons is estimated to the tune of 83 per cent.
The overall shortage translates to 81.2 per cent as on 2015.
The president offered solutions to help overcome some of the challenges. He suggested the situation requires increasing the number of medical colleges and engagement of corporate sector, especially in the rural area.
He asked people to think about the kind of healthcare system they want – a commercial, profit-driven one or a system compatible with the socio-economic conditions of the society.
The president also condemned attacks on doctors, medical staff and vandalism of health institutions. “This is no way… If you can’t trust doctors whom can you trust.”
The region has witnessed protests by medical professionals over the issue in the recent past.
Mukherjee also visited 800-year-old Sri Krishna Temple in the Udupi.
The temple was renovated with wooden craft a month ahead of the presidential visit, said KR Shashank Bhatt, a disciple of the 88-year-old head priest at the temple.
Udupi is considered a fertile ground for the banking sector and the birthplace of the Syndicate Bank and the Corporation Bank. Karnataka’s coastal city is also known for its cuisines and temples.

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