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Law of land will be supreme in Afzal case: Kalam

By Sumir Kaul
April 29, 2007 15:00 IST
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With European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering raising the death sentence awarded to Mohammed Afzal Guru for his role in the Parliament attack, President A P J Abdul Kalam has said that judicial and other processes of India will be adhered to in deciding the matter.

Wrapping up a five-day visit during which he addressed European parliamentarians and made a state visit to Greece, a calm-looking 75-year-old Kalam said he had told Pottering that clemency for Guru would be decided on only after legal procedures were completed.

Kalam was replying to questions from media persons accompanying him, who asked whether there was any pressure from the European Parliament on granting clemency to Guru.

"Well, (they) did not pressurise or anything. They raised the issue. In fact the European Parliament President raised the issue during a one-to-one meeting and I said the law of the land will be supreme," he said.

"Any judgment as per the law of the country will be processed and carried out. Law is the final authority," Kalam firmly told media persons on Saturday night while returning from Athens.

Asked about clemency powers vested in the President, he said: "Once it comes to me, I will take care of it."

Kalam has referred a mercy petition submitted by Guru to the government.

There was a minor protest by a group seeking clemency for Guru outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg when Kalam addressed the House on April 25.

Asked about 22 other clemency petitions pending with the President's Secretariat, Kalam said: "They are at various stages and with various wings of the government."

Summing up his visit to the European Parliament and Greece, a state visit that came after 21 years, Kalam said, "India has been recognised in a big way. My visit to Greece was very fruitful and both countries, as part of convergence of technology, have agreed to begin laboratory-to-laboratory cooperation. Trade between the two countries will cross one billion euros by 2010 on equal partnership basis."

Kalam said European countries had liked his proposal for setting up a world knowledge platform.

The European Union completely supports the nuclear power demands of India, he said. "Nuclear power is the cleanest energy and this notion is going to spread fast."

Maintaining that no country should undertake any weaponisation of outer space, Kalam said European nations had agreed to promote this idea wherever they could.

Referring to the first commercial launch of a foreign satellite by India, Kalam said: "I have been favouring that the cost per kilogram of a satellite should come down to around $200 and not $20,000 as at present. We have a great potential but this is a competitive world. So every country should try and reduce the prices so that space launches can become more cost-effective."

Kalam said his proposal for a National Prosperity Index had become a hit within European countries and in Greece.

"NPI comprises the annual growth rate of GDP, improvement of quality of life, particularly for those living below the poverty line, and adoption of a value system derived from the civilisation heritage. If this is achieved, the nation will be a developed one by 2020," he said.

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Sumir Kaul
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