Hours after the Supreme Court restrained the Tamil Nadu government from releasing three men convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Centre on Thursday filed a review petition challenging the court order commuting their death sentence to life term, calling it “patently illegal”.
The court had commuted the death penalty after noting an inexplicable delay in deciding their mercy petitions by the President. The petition said the SC passed the order “without jurisdiction” since it had limited powers to interfere in merits of the President’s order of rejection of mercy plea.
The government contended that if the SC thought there was no proper consideration of the mercy petition, the matter had to be reverted to the President with a request for expeditious disposal. It maintained that the President was not required to give any reason for the delay. “It is respectfully submitted that the impugned judgment is patently illegal, suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record, and flies in the face of well-established principles of law laid down by this Hon’ble Court and contained in the Constitution and other statutes,” stated the petition.
It disputed the matter having been decided by a three-judge bench, arguing the case involved issues relating to interpretation of the Constitution and hence needed a five-judge bench.
The government said this case had to be treated on different parameters since it was a crime of “political nature” where the conspiracy was to take the life of a former Prime Minister to ensure smooth functioning of LTTE.
It claimed the power of commutation remained with the “appropriate government,” which was the central government in this case.