With a view to prevent Rajiv Gandhi’s killers from benefiting from the January 21 Supreme Court verdict commuting the sentence of 15 death row convicts, the Centre is planning to file a petition on the ruling in the apex court, seeking its review.
This was indicated by Ram Jethmalani, counsel of one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, when Additional Solicitor General Siddarth Luthra, appearing for the Centre, sought adjournment of the hearing of the petitions filed by three convicts — Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.
CJI hearing plea
The plea was filed before a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shivakirti Singh.
Mr. Jethmalani alleged that the Centre was seeking the adjournment so that it could file a review of the January 21 verdict, preventing the hearing of the case.
The ASG said though the Centre was planning to seek a review, the adjournment had nothing to do with it as Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati was to appear in the case.
The CJI then asked Mr. Jethmalani to commence his arguments on Thursday.
While Murugan and Santhan are Sri Lankan nationals, Perarivalan is an Indian. Murugan’s wife S. Nalini was also sentenced to death, but it was commuted to life imprisonment at the intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Nalini is serving her sentence in a Tamil Nadu prison.
In May 2012, the Supreme Court transferred to itself the writ petitions filed by three convicts in the Madras High Court, challenging the rejection of their clemency plea by former President Pratibha Patil after 11 years.
The High Court on August 30, 2011 had stayed their execution.
Delay not a ground to commute sentence
The apex court had issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response, which justified the delay and said there was no ground to commute the death sentence into life imprisonment on this ground.