NEW DELHI: The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that its decision to release seven Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts was forced by the Centre’s delay in deciding on their mercy petitions that led to the commutation of their death sentence.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the State has been wrongly accused of taking a political, arbitrary and whimsical decision in the case.
Dwivedi blamed the previous governments for not taking a decision on the mercy pleas of the convicts.
Advancing the arguments before a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the Chief Justice HL Dattu, Dwivedi said, “Why didn’t UPA-I and UPA-II hang the killers of Rajiv Gandhi during the ten years of its rule?” The court was hearing the petition challenging the maintainability of the Centre’s petition opposing Tamil Nadu’s decision to free the convicts after remitting their life sentences in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
“Politics is not the dirty world it is painted to be. All political parties said don’t hang them. People, MLAs, opposition were against the hanging. How could it be ignored that none from the opposition raised an objection,” he said, adding that the Central government, which did not take a decision on their mercy pleas during 2000-2012, cannot accuse the State of arbitrariness. Dwivedi further said, “The State is empowered to consider changes in factual and material circumstances of the case and it needed to be looked into.” The court will resume the hearing tomorrow.