Jayalalithaa will free Rajiv Gandhi’s killers
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday set a deadline for the Centre to take a decision on the fate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, whose death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The state cabinet decided on Wednesday to release the three convicts - Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan – within three days beginning 19 February, if the Centre failed to decide on the matter.
Making a suo moto statement in the Tamil Nadu assembly, Jayalalithaa said that the decision would be conveyed to the central government as per the Indian Constitution and even if the Centre rejects the decision, they will be released within three days. Other convicts who were sentenced to life imprisonment namely, Nalini, Jayakumar, Robert Paes and Ravichandran will also be released.
Jayalalithaa said the state government considered the fact that they have spent 23 years of their life in prison.
Slamming Jayalalithaa’s decision, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said he was sad that seven people convicted of killing his father were being released by the 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. If a prime minister’s killers are being released, what kind of justice should the common man expect?’ asked Gandhi.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday had spared three of the convicts, Nalini’s husband Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, from execution, citing the 11-year delay in a decision on their mercy plea, and left it to the Tamil Nadu government to release them.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi too came down heavily on AIADMK government’s decision. ‘Any perverse decision is also liable for judicial scrutiny,’ said Singhvi, but he remained evasive when asked whether the Congress will ask Centre to approach the court in this matter.
Singhvi insisted that there is a fundamental difference between commutation of a sentence and release or remission. The party has already made it clear that it has no issue with the Supreme Court order commuting the death sentence of Rajiv killers to life imprisonment.
‘The nation cannot forget that it lost not only its prime minister but also 17 other Indian citizens including Tamils to terrorism. We condemn unequivocally such irresponsible statements and decisions by such constitutional functionaries. Such decisions announced in such casual fashion and cavalier manner need to be condemned irrespective of regional, populist and other considerations. This decision fails to take into account the scourge of terrorism and the spirit of constitution,’