The People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) has welcomed Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's decision to request the President to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment of three persons convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The PUCL, in a statement issued here on Tuesday, said that the decision had averted the catastrophic end to the lives of Perarivalagan, Santhan and Murugan and it was widely welcomed by many in Tamil Nadu as also among the national and international human rights community.

R. Murali, convenor and vice-president, PUCL, said that it was imperative to note that the decision was in tune with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of December 2010 which urged countries and States around the world to abolish death penalty. Through this act, the Chief Minister had signalled the government's commitment to join 137 nations around the world to have, as on date, abolished death penalty which was found to be an anathema to modern civilised societies.

The statement said that the three convicts had exhibited exemplary conduct during the last 20 years in prison and none of them had any previous criminal record. During his time of incarceration, Perarivalan had acquired a BCA degree from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and was pursuing his MCA. He had also been helping other inmates to get education.

Likewise, Murugan and Santhan, belonging to the Sri Lankan Tamil community, had evinced much interest in education. Murugan had completed his BCA and MCA from IGNOU, and also passed a Radio and TV Mechanic diploma course. Besides, he was a talented painter. Santhan had penned many poems and short stories which had been published by a few Tamil magazines.

The PUCL said that the conduct of the three prisoners was in compliance with Presidential Guidelines for Commutation. It had to be noted that all the three were young at the time of the assassination and had demonstrated by the pursuit of education that they had utilised their time in prison fruitfully helping others.

PUCL firmly believed that it was only when law was tempered with mercy, real justice was done, and considering the sociological and humanist aspects, the President should consider the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment.