‘Sanjay Dutt’s release a point to consider in Rajiv convicts’ remission case’

In the interest of justice and fairness, similar cases should be treated similarly, says ex-CBI official

Published - June 01, 2019 12:33 am IST - CHENNAI

The demand for the release of the seven life convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case took a new turn on Friday, with former CBI Director D.R. Kaarthikeyan saying there was a "point for consideration" in the wake of the remission of actor Sanjay Dutt’s sentence.

He was replying to a question on a plea made by Perarivalan, one of the life convicts in the case, that the grounds and provisions of law invoked to grant premature release to Mr. Dutt should be extended to him as well.

"I don’t know the full facts of the Sanjay Dutt case. However, in view of the reply given by jail authorities, there is a case for consideration in the interest of justice and fairness that similar cases should be treated similarly,” Mr. Kaarthikeyan, who led the Special Investigation Team that probed the assassination of the former Prime Minister, told The Hindu .

Mr. Kaarthikeyanhad earlier advocated the commutation of the death sentences awarded to the convicts and called for a special session of Parliament to debate and decide whether the country should abolish the death penalty.

Parrying questions on his view on the premature release of the seven convicts, he said he had done his duty as the SIT chief in investigating the assassination of the former PM. “Their premature release is a matter under the consideration of the Supreme Court and the Central and State governments...I have nothing to say on that," he added.

To a query raised by Perarivalan under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Yerwada Central Prison authorities in Pune went on record, saying that the Central government was not consulted on granting remission of jail sentence to Mr. Dutt, convicted in the Mumbai serial blasts case. The actor was sentenced to five-year imprisonment under the Arms Act, a central legislation, and granted remission on the ground of “good conduct”.

This revelation assumes significance in the backdrop of the ruling of a five-member Constitution Bench in Sriharan alias Murugan & others vs the Union of India that the Centre was the appropriate authority to reduce sentences in cases of offences under the Arms Act. Both Mr. Dutt and Perarivalan were convicted under central acts.

Pointing out that the release of Mr. Dutt was neither facilitated by constitutional provisions nor by those of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Perarivalan’s advocates and rights activists have demanded that the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case also be released along the same lines as Mr. Dutt.

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