SC refuses to review verdict granting life to Rajiv killers

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to review its verdict commuting death sentence of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life imprisonment and dismissed Centre’s review petition. ‘We have carefully gone through the review petition and the connected papers. We find no merit in the review petition and the same is accordingly dismissed,’ a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjan Gogoi and S K Singh said.

Centre had contended in its petition that the three-judge bench did not consider the merits of the case and also ventured into the domain of government by commuting the death sentence in the case. It had further contended the February 18 judgement was passed without jurisdiction by the three-judge bench instead of by a larger bench of five judges as the case involved substantial interpretation of law and provisions of the constitution.

‘It is respectfully submitted that the impugned judgement is patently illegal, suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record and flies in the face of well-established principles of law laid down by this Court and contained in the constitution and other statutes,’ the petition had said.

‘It is submitted that in the present case, the issue raised was that of the commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay, which allegedly attracted Article 21 in favour of the convicts. Therefore, it involved a substantial issue of interpretation of the constitution and ought to have been heard by a bench of five judges, as mandated by the Constitution,’ the petition had said.

The apex court had on 18 February commuted the death sentence of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to imprisonment for life on the ground of delay in deciding their mercy plea by the Centre.
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