New Delhi: The Tamil Nadu government today
opposed in the Supreme Court a plea to shift out of the Madras
High Court the appeals of three Rajiv Gandhi assassins,
challenging their death penalty on account of an 11-year delay
in deciding their mercy petition by the President.
Tamil Nadu`s Additional Advocate General Gurukrishna
Kumar opposed the plea for transfer of the three convicts`
appeals out of the state high court, denying allegations made
before the apex court that the atmosphere in the state was too
"vitiated and surcharged" to hold a free and fair hearing in
Kumar also questioned the locus standi of petitioner L K
Venkat, seeking the apex court`s direction for transfer of the
case out of Madras High Court to the Supreme Court.
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the three
convicts on death row, also opposed the transfer plea on the
ground that Article 139A (relating to transfer of certain
cases) gives power only to the Attorney General of India or
the aggrieved parties to file a petition for transfer.
Venkat`s counsel L Nandkumar, however, submitted that a
free and fair hearing of the proceedings cannot be held in the
Madras High Court owing to the "surcharged, hostile and
vitiated" atmosphere prevailing there.
After hearing the arguments by various parties, a bench of
justices G S Signhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya asked the state to
file a counter affidavit within a week and posted the matter
for further hearing to October 19.
The bench asked Tamil Nadu government to file a counter
affidavit on the plea for shifting appeals of the three
condemned prisoners in the assassination case out of the state
"Though the request made by the state additional advocate
general is unreasonable, we are granting time for filing the
counter affidavit," the bench said.
The judges were irked at Tamil Nadu government`s request
as it had failed to reply till date to its September 15 notice
On a petition by the three death row convicts, the Madras
High Court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued
notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.
The three convicts--Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan
alias Arivu--had challenged the sentence despite the same
having been upheld earlier by the apex court and the President
having rejected their mercy pleas subsequently.
Venkat subsequently had moved the apex court seeking
transfer of their appeals out of the state high court and the
apex court had issued notices on the petition to the state.
Venkat had alleged in his plea that the convicts` appeals
challenging their death sentences cannot be heard in a free
and fair atmosphere in the state as several supporters of the
banned LLTE were interfering with the functioning of the
judiciary by raising slogans in support of the convicts.