New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected his first mercy petition of a death-row convict who had burned alive seven members of a family, including five children, over a case of buffalo theft.
The case pertains to the gruesome killing of Vijendra Mahto and six of his family members by Jagat Rai in Raghopur block of Bihar’s Vaishali district in 2006.
Mr Mahto had lodged a case of theft of his buffalo in September 2005 in which Jagat Rai, Wazir Rai and Ajay Rai were named as accused.
The convicts were pressuring Mr Mahto to withdraw the case. When he didn’t do as told, Jagat Rai set Mr Mahto’s house on fire. This resulted in the death of Mr Mahto’s wife and five children. Vijendra Mahto, who had sustained serious burn injuries at the time, died a few months later.
After being convicted for the crime and being sentenced the death by the local court, the high court, the Supreme Court too in 2013 gave upheld the death sentence. Jagat Rai’s mercy plea was then sent to the president’s secretariat.
The office of the president had sought the Home Ministry’s views which gave its recommendation on July 12 last year.
“The mercy petition was rejected by the president on April 23, 2018”, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique. This is the first mercy plea decided by Ram Nath Kovind after he became the President in July last year.
There is no other mercy petitions pending with the president’s secretariat.
Under Article 72 of the Constitution, “The president shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death”.