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Can State Assemblies Pass Resolutions Favouring Mercy For Terrorists?

Updated: August 25, 2012 10:37 am

Only after burning our Constitution and criminal laws can anyone say that as there is anarchy, we too being elected representatives have the birth right to pass resolutions in favour of terrorists. Will a common man have any respect for their elected representatives who go out of the way to pass resolutions in favour of terrorists and openly declare that India will burn if terrorists are hanged? They openly declare that even a common man should start supporting them in their crusade to see that no terrorist is hanged under any circumstances. They strongly feel that it does not matter if poor rapists like Dhanonjoy Chatterjee are hanged on circumstantial evidence alone but terrorists like Afzal or Kasab or others should never be hanged even though the entire world has seen them committing the terror acts.

This clearly shows that they treat terrorists as a special VVIP class who are head and shoulders above other criminals. What else can explain that they pass resolutions in favour of terrorists only, they hold talks with terrorists only and worst of all, they give the green signal to get the terrorists released bypassing all procedures for holding talks with them as just recently we saw in Assam with heads of ULFA terror group and they say that this special privilege cannot be extended to dacoits, rapists, murderers and robberers as they are ordinary criminals and are not VVIPs like terrorists who alone deserve this special status as they are so special! They say that a senior Union Minister like can always shake hands with self-proclaimed foreign minister or army commander of terror groups like ULFA but it is below their dignity to shake hands with a rapist or murderer or any other ordinary criminal other than terrorists as they alone qualify for this VVIP treatment. Nothing can be more shameful and distressing than this! What an irony that war memorial for terror leaders like Bhindrawale are being sought to be built but for our brave soldiers no memorial has been built after independence!

Terrorists have to be treated like terrorists which most unfortunately is not happening. No State Assembly can ever pass resolutions for terrorists under any circumstances. PDT Achary, who is a former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, was at pains when he said: “Since the government of a state has no constitutionally sanctioned power to request the President to consider the mercy petition, the Assembly cannot perform that role. In other words, the Assembly of a state has no power to request the President to consider a mercy petition in a particular way. It seems there is a certain amount of confusion in the minds of Speakers on the competence of state legislatures to consider such resolutions. Unlike in the US, where the residuary powers vest in the states, in India the Constitution vests the residuary powers in Parliament only. So, the state legislature cannot deal with a matter which is outside the area assigned to it by the Constitution. Whatever the political compulsions, a legislative body is required to function within the framework of rules. Of course, issues may arise which may be important for political organisations and, maybe, they do not want to miss an opportunity to do grandstanding.Passing a resolution by an Assembly seeking presidential clemency for a convict is an act without a precedent.”

In our democracy, there are many pressure points. There is an irresistible temptation among our political class to succumb to such pressures. Rule of law is what steers the ship of democratic institutions out of the turgid waters of sectarian pressures. A precedent once set, is followed by others in future. Generally, presiding officers of the legislatures exercise a great amount of care while dealing with issues of constitutional significance. Passing a resolution by an assembly seeking presidential pardon for someone who did an act of terrorism is tantamount to saying, ‘He is our terrorist, therefore, please spare him.’ This message goes across the world. The President acts on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers and not that of the Council of Ministers of a state. In respect of mercy petitions also, the President acts on the advice of his Council of Ministers.

 By Sanjeev Sirohi

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