TN Govt's decision to release Rajiv Gandhi's killer sends a wrong message: Sibal
Commenting on the Central Government's filing a plea in the Supreme Court to challenge the Tamil Nadu Government's decision to release all the convicted assassinators of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the state government's decision sends a wrong message to the people of the country, and added that no political party should have double standards on the issue of terrorism.
"We have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court. We will also challenge the Tamil Nadu Government's decision. I hope that the Supreme Court takes up this issue as quickly as possible," Sibal told media here today.
"We are aggrieved because AIADMK was silent on this issue all these years. This decision sends a wrong message across the nation," he added.
Taking a jibe at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Sibal said, "While in some places, innocents are being killed in the name of terrorism through fake encounters. Whereas, certain political parties do not raise their voice against terrorist being set free. I think there is something fishy here."
Questioning Modi's silence, Sibal said why is he quiet on this issue. He said his silence sends a wrong message.
"It seems that no government and no political party should have double standards when it comes to our fight against the terrorism," he added.
Earlier the Centre had moved to the SC challenging the decision of the Tamil Nadu Government.
The government has contended that the Tamil Nadu government cannot release the convicts since their case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is a central agency, and hence the state has to consult the centre.
Centre has also asked the SC to review its order commuting death sentences of three men to life in prison.
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.
Earlier on Wednesday, 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.
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)