NEW DELHI: The Central Government on Tuesday submitted before 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? 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 bench a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice H L 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 court 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 case.
The court had stayed Tamil Nadu’s decision to set free all the seven convicts after remitting their sentences and referred the case to Constitution bench to decide on the scope of executives’ power of remission.
However, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Murugan 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 victims’ grief .
“The Supreme Court commuted the convicts’ death penalty to life. The victims did not complain. But here the State government further tinkers with our judgment. 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 observed.
It also told the Centre saying “once we have commuted the death penalty to life, the ball is in the State government’s court to decide whether to release the convicts or not.