Amethi: Commenting on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s decision to release all the convicted assassinators of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he is saddened that Rajiv's killers are being set free.
Congress Vice President Rahuil Gandhi. Pic: AFP
“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,” said Rahul.
“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 today, 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.