The Centre on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court not to show any mercy to the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and pointed out the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals.
“Our former Prime Minister was killed in a conspiracy hatched outside this country in which foreign nationals were involved and the conspiracy was executed by these convicts. What mercy is to be seen or shown? This is to be looked by you,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu.
Kumar emphasised that the mercy petitions by these convicts were rejected by the President and also by the Governor of Tamil Nadu. “So what mercy is being argued?” questioned Kumar.
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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 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 free the 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.
On Tuesday, the Bench held the government’s writ petition to be maintainable and said the court would hear the case on merits on Wednesday. The Bench requires to decided whether state governments can exercise their power of remission when the cases have been investigated by central agencies like the CBI. It also has to decide whether life imprisonment, after commutation by a court, means rest of the life or a whether convict still can exercise a right to claim remission by the state government after completing 14 years of his prison sentence.