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Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts may get relief

Chennai, Jan 22 (): Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts facing the gallows are likely to get the sentence commuted to life. The Supreme Court ruling that commuted the death penalty of 15 persons yesterday has brought cheer.

Perarivalan is one of the convicts facing the death row along with Murugan and Santhan for assassination of Rajiv Gandhi;he is likely to get reprieve when the case comes up for hearing on January 29. When the SC ruling came, 67-year-old Arputham Kuildasan, mother of Perarivalan, who has been doing relentless campaign to get her son saved from the noose, was greeted by activists. She was at the Chennai Book Fair where she was selling books including one written by her son and other jurists like Bhagwati and Iyer who advocate abolition of death sentence. Perarivalan is behind bars for Rajiv Gandhi assassination since June 1999.

Perarivalan along with two others were awarded death sentence and is awaiting the implementation of the sentence as the mercy petition was rejected. As soon as the news came, many supporting her campaign came to the stall. Many bought books autographed by her and posed for photos. She was looking happy and said that she would continue her campaign against death penalty.

Lawyers feel that SC ruling now takes away ambiguity. SC said that the delay in taking decision on the mercy petition was cited as reason for changing the sentence to life. Nalini who is facing death sentence is wife of Sriharan who too is facing death row for involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. She was given life sentence after her appeal on the grounds that if both parents were hanged, then their child would be an orphan.

MDMK and VCK have hailed the SC verdict. Yet, some legal opinion is that the assassination if treated as a planned action by the court will not give any relief as in case of Kasab. Acts of impulse, rage or unplanned acts can only be changed to life.