Tamil Nadu Govt's planned decision to free Rajiv Gandhi's killers legally not tenable: PM
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said Tamil Nadu government's decision to release seven people convicted of killing former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was legally untenable and contrary to all principles of justice.
Dr. Singh made the points in statement even as the Centre moved the Supreme Court against Tamil Nadu government's decision to release Rajiv Gandhi's killers.
"The Government is moving a review petition in the Supreme Court on fundamental issues of law arising from the assassination of the late Rajiv Gandhi. We have also informed the Tamil Nadu Government that their proposed course of action to release the killers of Rajiv Gandhi is not legally tenable and should not be proceeded with," a statement from the PMO said.
"The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was an attack on the soul of India. The release of the killers of a former Prime Minister of India and our great leader, as well as several other innocent Indians, would be contrary to all principles of justice. No government or party should be soft in the fight against terrorism," it added.
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister 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 was rejected 11 years later. Their hanging was stayed in 2011 on the orders of the Madras High Court.
(Posted on 20-02-2014)