President Pranab Mukherjee will be leaving his office next Tuesday as his tenure gets over as the 13th President of India. However, in these 5 years, he has rejected 30 mercy petitions.
Over the five years of his presidency, Mukherjee has disposed of 34 mercy pleas (35, if you consider the case of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts financier, Yakub Memon who, unsuccessfully, appealed for the presidential pardon twice).
Mukherjee has rejected 30 mercy petitions (31, again, if you include Memon’s follow-up plea), and has given a fresh lease on life in just four cases. The President’s record of rejecting mercy petitions is unprecedented among his immediate predecessors and, in the history of the Indian republic, is second only to President R Venkatraman, who rejected 45 mercy pleas.
It is likely that the office will next be taken by Ram Nath Kovind, according to the trends. It will be a one of its kind event when the next president will have no pending mercy pleas to act upon. That is a rare event, which has not been witnessed in the last three presidencies.
On July 25, 2012, when Pranab Mukherjee became the President, he inherited at least 10 pending pleas for mercy, including one from President Kocheril Raman Narayanan’s term (1997-2002).
In fact, President KR Narayanan and his successor, President Abdul Kalam (2002-2007) hold the characteristic of sitting on mercy petitions, or what the Law Commission said in a 2015 report, putting the “brakes on the disposal of mercy petitions”.