Political parties wedded to Tamil nationalism on Friday expressed “shock and disappointment” at the Supreme Court’s decision to extend the stay on a February 19 order, directing the release of seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
DMK president M. Karunanidhi declined to comment, saying he was not interested in expressing his opinion on judicial matters.
Describing as an utter “human rights violation” the detention of the seven life convicts for 23 years, PMK leader S. Ramadoss said the Tamil Nadu government could provide relief to them by invoking Article 161 of the Constitution as it would take a lot of time to constitute a five-judge Constitution Bench.
“Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has been saying she will respect the sentiments of the Tamil Nadu people when it comes to releasing the seven persons. Now, she should release them on parole for a maximum period,” he said.
Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi general secretary Ravikumar also wanted the State government to exercise its power guaranteed under Article 161 not only to release the seven convicts but also others who had been languishing in prison for long.
Expressing the hope that the Constitution Bench would do justice to the convicts, MDMK general secretary Vaiko said it would be only delayed justice.
Mr. Vaiko also accused Mr. Karunanidhi of queering the pitch by criticising Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam’s remark on the judgment in the case that the court would deliver the verdict by April 25, the day of his demitting office.
Manithaneya Makkal Katchi deputy general secretary S.S. Haroon Rashid alleged that the release of the seven convicts was delayed because of the “egoistic war” between the Tamil Nadu government and the Centre.
All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi leader R. Sarathkumar said the stay caused an enormous anguish to the people of the State and the families of the convicts. He wanted the Centre to withdraw its petition.
However, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president B.S. Gnanadesikan said it was unfortunate that the leaders of some Tamil nationalist groups chose to criticise the court’s decision. “They seem to be more interested in politicising the issue than securing their release. They are raising the issue with an ulterior political motive,” he said, pointing out that since four of the seven convicts were Sri Lankan Tamils, only the judiciary could take an appropriate decision.