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Thursday, February 20, 2014

After SC directive, TN Govt decides to release 7 persons convicted for Rajiv assassination

This place is famous for being the birthplace of our greatest Acharyar – Sri Ramanujar ~ life has changed a lot in the past couple of decades after that fatefulday…..  one may not ardently believe in ‘fate or destiny’…….in the prelude to General elections, there were far too varied predictions …… the National Front was still nursing some hopes, there was a wave predicting return of Rajiv Gandhi.  In that melee, was this person, who had retired from active politics  – not any ordinary person for sure~ a man who had been the CM too…. in 1984 in the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi saw routing of all political parties.  Bharatiya Janata Party could win only 2 seats. One in Mehsana and the other was in South ~ the Hanamkonda constituency where M. Chandupatla Janga Reddy of BJP defeated his nearest Congress rival by 54198 votes.  The man who lost so at a time when Congress swept to power was 70 by the 1991 elections, could not get a ticket and had chosen to retire to peace…….. destiny thought otherwise….. he became the PM in 1991 – Sri PV Narasimha Rao.

The night of 21st  May 1991 changed it all ~ on a campaign trail, he arrived from Vizag, garlanded Nehru at Kathipara, even the Press chose not to travel along for that meeting at Sriperumpudur – and rest is bloody history – the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. 

The clemency procedure under Articles 72 (by the President) and 161 (by Governors) of the Constitution provides a ray of hope to condemned prisoners and their family members for commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment. The executive should step up and exercise its time-honoured tradition of clemency power one-way or the other within a reasonable time, the Supreme Court has held ~ and by that yardstick, a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam commuted the death sentence of three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.  Writing the judgment, the CJI said: “The fact that no time limit is prescribed to the President/Governor for disposal of the mercy petition should compel the government to work in a more systematised manner to repose the confidence of the people in the institution of democracy. The Bench reiterated that exorbitant delay in disposal of mercy petition renders the process of execution of death sentence arbitrary, whimsical and capricious and, therefore, inexecutable.  The Court however refrained from any discussion on the roles played by Murugan and Santhan, both committed LTTE members, or Perarivalan, an Indian national. There was an attempt in Tamil Nadu to give an ethno-linguistic angle to the campaign to save the three convicts from the gallows. The humanitarian demand to abolish capital punishment was overshadowed by efforts to portray the three men as “innocent Tamils”.

That has set the political process moving.  Regardless of what the Centre decides on the release of Rajiv Gandhi case convicts, the Tamil Nadu CM made her point deciding to release them. If the Centre agrees to the release, she will be the one to reap the political benefits; if not, she will be the one that stood up and demanded it.

When the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life imprisonment and gave the option to the “appropriate government” to exercise its remission powers, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was quick to seize the opportunity. The State Cabinet adopted a resolution for the release of all seven prisoners, and gave  three-day deadline to the Centre for its consent.  For obvious reasons, the Congress, decried the release as an attempt to capitalise on Tamil nationalist sentiments. TNCC president B.S. Gnanadesikan said the decision to release the seven convicts was nothing but “competitive politics,” seeking to capitalise on Tamil sentiments. An emotional Rahul Gandhi told a gathering here that even a prime minister does not get justice in this country.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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