The Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce its verdict on the plea of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, seeking commutation of their death sentence to life term on the grounds that disposal of their mercy petitions by the President had been inordinately delayed.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam had reserved the verdict on February 4.

The Supreme Court in May 2012 had transferred to itself the writ petitions filed by the 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, stayed their execution.

They sought life term citing the January 21 judgment that inordinate and unexplained delay was one of the grounds for commuting death sentence into life imprisonment.

The Centre, however, strongly opposed the plea for commuting their death sentence contending that there was no delay by the President in the disposal of the mercy petitions. The initial delay was caused by the NDA government from 2000 to 2004.

It argued against showing any leniency to the convicts stating that the President’s office could not be blamed for the delay. It said, “Though there was a delay by the government in deciding the mercy plea, it was not unexplainable or an inordinate delay. There was not even an iota of remorse for their action of killing the former Prime Minister and they even justified it.”

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