India’s apex Court stays release of Rajiv Gandhi killers

Friday, 28 February 2014 04:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

New Delhi/Reuters: India’s Supreme Court, on Thursday (27), stayed the release of four convicts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi case, after looking into a review petition filed by the Federal Government challenging the release order given by southern state’s government. The Supreme Court bench in New Delhi, presided over by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, gave a temporary restrain order as Sathasivam said he needed more time to examine the issue. “There was no need to come in a writ petition to the Supreme Court. I was appearing for one of the accused. I informed the court that earlier petitions filed by me seeking a release were also pending. The court has said that all these matter will be considered on 6 March. They will also consider the Tamil Nadu Government’s submission that the petition filed by the union of India is not maintainable,” said the lawyer of one of the convicts. On 18 February, the Supreme Court of India had commuted the death sentences of three accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination to life term because of an 11-year delay in deciding on their petitions for mercy. The Court had then granted powers to the Tamil Nadu Government to exercise its remission powers under the Sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc). On Wednesday (19), the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalailthaa, decided to release all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Jayalalithaa’s move was a bid to woo voters in her state ahead of the parliamentary elections, by showing that she can outdo her rivals when it comes to supporting Tamils and standing up to New Delhi, analysts said. On an earlier occasion, scion of Nehru-Gandhi family, Rahul Gandhi, had said he was ‘saddened’ by the decision, saying that if a Prime Minister couldn’t get justice, it was least expected for a poor man to get it. India’s former PM Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Sriperumbedur on 21 May, 1991. The three Indian men - tried as Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan - were members of a Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and Gandhi’s killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987. The three were convicted of involvement in 1998 and sentenced to death by hanging. A fourth person, a woman, was also given the death sentence but it was later commuted to a life term.