Chennai: The Madras High Court is slated to
resume tomorrow hearing on the petitions by three death row
convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case seeking
commutation of capital punishment.
The court had on August 30 stayed for eight weeks the
execution of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan while admitting
their pleas for commuting their death sentence to life term.
After hearing arguments by senior counsels Ram Jethmalani
and others who appeared for the three convicts, a bench
comprising justices C Nagappan and M Sathayanarayanan had
issued notices to the Centre, the state government and police.
The three, lodged in Vellore jail, were convicted and
sentenced to death in the case relating to the assassination
of Gandhi during an election rally at Sriperumpudur on May 21,
1991 by an LTTE suicide bomber.
The high court stay came as a major relief for the three
convicts as their execution was then fixed for September 9
after President Pratibha Patil turned down their mercy pleas.
The court had noted a submission that there had been a
delay of over 11 years in the disposal of the petitions filed
by the three convicts seeking Presidential clemency.
Jethmalani, Colin Gonsalves and R Vaigai, appearing for
the three convicts, had contended the "inordinate and
inexplainable delay" in disposing of their mercy petitions
violated Article 21 of the Constitution (protection of life
and personal liberty).
In a related development, the Supreme Court had on
September 15 issued notices to the Centre, the Tamil Nadu
government and the three convicts on a plea for transferring
out of Madras High Court the petition by three condemned
Petitioner L K Venkata had pleaded that the petition
before the Madras High Court be taken up by the apex court or
any other high court for further hearing.
Alleging that several LTTE supporters are interfering
with the judicial function by raising slogans in support of
the three convicts, he had submitted that their petition
cannot be heard by the high court in a free and fair