Rajiv Gandhi’s killers deserve no mercy, Centre tells SC
New Delhi: The Centre on
Tuesday asserted in the Supreme Court that the killers of former Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi did not deserve any mercy as the assassination was the result of a
conspiracy involving foreign nationals.
“Our former Prime
Minister was killed by these people. There was a conspiracy to kill him in
which foreign nationals were also involved. What mercy is to be seen or shown?
This is to be looked by you (apex court).
“Their mercy plea was
rejected by the President and also by the Governor (of Tamil Nadu). So what
mercy is being argued?” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a five-judge
Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu.
Among the seven
convicts, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Santhan, Robert Pious and Jaya Kumar were
Sri Lankan nationals while female convict Nalini, Ravichandran and Arivu are
Indians. The bench was hearing the maintainability of the Centre’s petition
opposing Tamil Nadu government’s decision to remit the life sentences and set
free seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The issue of mercy was
raised by senior advocates Ram Jethmalani who was appearing for Murugan and
traced the history of judicial proceedings.
Earlier the court, on
the plea of the erstwhile UPA government, had stayed Tamil Nadu’s decision to
set free all the seven convicts after remitting their sentences. It had framed
seven questions to be decided by a Constitution bench on the scope of
executives’ power of remission.
However, Jethmalani and
Tamil Nadu government’s senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi questioned the
maintainability of the Centre’s petition saying the Article 32 petition cannot
be invoked by the Centre as it did not concern any violation of the fundamental
rights with which the state is affected. The hearing witnessed a debate during
which the court said the Centre has a parental duty to voice the grief of
victims of the 1991 assassination in Sriperumbudur.
“The Supreme Court
commuted the convicts’ death penalty to life. The victims did not complain. But
here the state government further tinkers with our judgement. Can CBI through
the Centre not move under Article 32 of the Constitution? After all, it’s CBI
probe which got them death penalty,” the bench, also comprising Justices FMI
Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit observed.
(With inputs from agencies)