Efforts on to create consensus among political parties, says Amnesty

With the Supreme Court refusing to entertain a petition filed by four death-row convicts seeking retrial of their cases last Friday, human rights activists have planned to intensify their campaign seeking abolition of capital punishment. Associates of the slain forest brigand Veerappan — Simon, Gnanaprakash, Bilavendra and Madhaiah — sought retrial on the ground that fresh evidence had emerged in their cases.

While Amnesty International has plans to expedite its mission to forge a political will and public consensus against the death penalty, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties urged the Government of India to exercise its constitutional power of granting pardon when the situation warranted.

The basis of Veerappan’s aides seeking retrial has a similarity with the case of Perarivalan, on death row in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who is pinning his hopes on the statement of a former CBI official.

Retired Superintendent of Police V. Thiagarajan, who was involved in the investigation of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, said in a recent interview that he had not recorded verbatim the statement of Perarivalan.

Amnesty International, India, Chief Executive G. Ananthapadmanabhan said efforts were on to create consensus among political parties on the need to abolish the death penalty. “We are in the process of formulating a strategy where public opinion will be created and all political parties persuaded to voice against death as a form of punishment,” he said.

PUCL national general secretary V. Suresh said it was unfortunate the Supreme Court refused to look into fresh evidence that raised doubts over the involvement of the accused persons. “If fresh evidence goes to the root of the case and raises doubts over the involvement of the accused in a crime, it should be a ground for the court to order re-examination of the case”

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