Millennium Post

Rajiv Gandhi killers escape gallows as SC gives relief

Rajiv Gandhi killers escape gallows as SC gives relief
The Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death penalty of former prime minister’s killers to life term, citing the 11-year delay in deciding their mercy pleas.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam rejected the Centre’s submission that there was no unreasonable delay in deciding their mercy plea and the condemned prisoners did not go through agonizing experience as they were enjoying life behind bars.

The bench, also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and S K Singh, said they are unable to accept the Centre’s view and commuted the death sentence of convicts to imprisonment for life subject to remission by the government. There had been inordinate delay on the government and President’s part to decide their mercy pleas, the SC judges said.

‘We implore the government to render advice in reasonable time to the President for taking a decision on mercy pleas,’ the court said. The top court has asked the government to add a new criteria for considering commuting death penalty to life imprisonment — inordinate delay in deciding mercy petitions.

It said the government should handle the cases of mercy petitions in a more systematic manner. ‘We are confident that mercy plea can be decided at much faster speed than what is being done now,’ the bench said.
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