New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Centre’s curative petition against its verdict commuting the death sentence of three convicts in former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case to life imprisonment.
On February 18, 2014, the court had commuted the death sentence of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to life imprisonment on grounds of delay by the Centre in deciding their mercy plea.
The bench then held that it was “indisputable” that the delay in deciding the mercy plea was “inordinate and unreasonable”, and had not been caused by the convicts.
The central government had last week told the Supreme Court that no mercy could be shown to the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi as it opposed the Tamil Nadu government's move to set free seven convicts by granting them remission of sentence.
Opposing Tamil Nadu government's plea to release the seven convicts, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the Constitution Bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit that "our former prime minister was killed by these people. There was a conspiracy to kill him in which foreign nationals were also involved. What mercy could be shown to them?"
Appearing for the other victims of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, Ranjit Kumar stated his stand while opposing the plea by senior counsel Ram Jathmalani appearing for one of the convicts V Sriharan alias Murugan and Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for the Tamil Nadu government.
The bench was hearing a reference by three judge bench on the question whether after the commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment, could the state government further grant remission of sentence to release the Rajiv Gandhi assassins.