Verdict reserved on Rajiv killers’ plea

Centre opposes mercy for Rajiv assassins

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:26 pm IST

Published - February 04, 2014 12:36 pm IST - New Delhi

The Centre on Tuesday strongly opposed in the Supreme Court the plea for commuting the death sentence of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers to life term. It contended that there was no delay by the President in disposing off mercy petitions of the death row convicts as the initial delay was caused by the NDA government between 2000 and 2004.

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh reserved the verdict at the conclusion of arguments by the counsel for the three convicts, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati appearing for the Centre said.

Mr. Vahanvati argued against showing any leniency to the convicts saying that the President’s office could not be blamed for the delay. He said “though there was a delay by the government in deciding the mercy plea, it was not unexplainable or inordinate delay. The mercy petitions were kept pending from 2000 to 2004, before they were processed and forwarded to the President.”

Mr. Vahanvati, quoting from the mercy petitions and the writ petition filed by them in the Madras High Court, told the Bench that all through these 11 years, the three convicts were living a full life by participating in music shows, art exhibitions and other recreational activities in the jail.

The CJI then observed: “This can be taken in other way also that they are not hardcore criminals and it cannot be presumed that they are happy inside jail.”

The AG argued that what he wanted to say was that “they did not suffer the agony of torture or dehumanising situation as per the January 21 judgment.” He said the delay was not unreasonable, unexplainable and unconscionable to commute death penalty.

He also said in the mercy petition to the President filed on April 26, 2000, there was not even an iota of remorse for their action of killing the former Prime Minister and they even justified it.

Appearing for the convicts, senior counsel Yug Chaudhary said: “The contention of the AG that the convicts did not suffer torture was regrettable and I would say most insensitive. Delay per se is torture. I don’t have to prove physical torture.”

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