Tamil Nadu govt's decision to free Rajiv Gandhi's killers against the law: Tewari
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Thursday said the decision of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to release all the convicted assassinators of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is in violation of the law, and added that the Centre will be taking appropriate steps on this issue.
"The decision of Tamil Nadu Government is in violation of the law. Both the law ministry and the government will be taking appropriate steps against this. We view this as a serious matter," Tewari told media here.
"It wasn't a murder of an individual. But it was an assassination of former Prime Minister of the country. It was an attack on the unity and sovereignty of the nation," he added.
Tewari asserted that the matter should be taken up very seriously, and hoped that all the political parties will rise above politics on this issue.
On Wednesday, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had said that he is saddened by the decision of Tamil Nadu Government.
"Rajiv Gandhi's killers are being set free, I am saddened by this. I am personally against the death penalty but this is not about my father," Rahul had said.
"If a Prime Minister's killers can be released, what kind of justice should the common man expect? My fight is for justice for the poor" he added.
Jayalalithaa had said that the state cabinet will apply powers applicable to it under the Constitution to release the three convicted assassinators of Rajiv Gandhi -- Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan -- if the Central Government failed to act on the same within the next three days.
Making a suo moto statement in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, Jayalalithaa had said a decision to this effect would be conveyed to the Central Government as per Indian Constitution and as per Section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code or Cr.PC.
She also said that the other convicts who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, namely, Nalini, Jayakumar, Robert Paes and Ravichandran, would also be released.
Jayalalithaa also said that the state government if of the view that since the six persons in question have already spent 23 years of their lives in prison, the life sentence imposed on them by the Supreme Court does not apply, and as per principles of natural justice, they should be released.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of three men to life in prison.
Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan had petitioned the apex court against their death sentence, arguing that there had been an exceptional delay in a decision on their mercy pleas.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam delivered its judgement on these mercy pleas.
The Centre had earlier opposed these pleas, arguing that the convicts were not tortured, nor had they experienced agony or a dehumanising experience during the pendency of the mercy pleas.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Sriperumbedur on May 21, 1991. Fourteen other people also lost their lives in that blast.
In 1999, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for being part of the group that conspired to kill Gandhi.
Their mercy petitions were sent to the President of India, the last stage in the process of appeals, in 2000, and were rejected 11 years later. Their hanging was stayed in 2011 on the orders of the Madras High Court.
(Posted on 20-02-2014)