Chennai, Feb 18 (): Rajiv Gandhi assassin’s death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment by the apex court has brought cheer to political parties and pro-Eelam outfits.
At many places across the State, the news was welcomed with bursting of firecrackers. MDMK Vaiko who was in the forefront of removing the death sentence from the law, hailed the SC decision. He said that State government was using sec 432 CrPc to give remission of the sentence to Rajiv Gandhi killers. DMK president and Periyar outfits too joined the chorus for release of the convicts.
Human rights outfits said that the death sentence being commuted to life is a welcome step and boost to ‘abolish death sentence movement’ in India. Four accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were sentenced to death. The rest were acquitted.
On compassionate grounds and on a plea from Sonia, wife of Rajiv Gandhi, the death sentence of Nalini was changed to life. The rest three facing death gallows for killing Rajiv Gandhi appealed to the President for mercy. The plea was lying for 11 years with the President and in 2012 Prathibha Patil rejected the plea. The three convicts moved the SC.
The Centre opposed the granting of any relaxation of the sentence. After hearing both sides, SC said that considering the inordinate delay in rejecting the mercy plea and having spent 23 years in prison, it was decided to change it to life sentence. The court said that it is up to the State to give remission of the sentence.
AG Perarivalan’s mother has been campaigning for her son’s release claiming that he had no role in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination plot. Many rights groups had supported her movement. The four convicted in the case are lodged in Vellore court. The involvement of LTTE in the Rajiv Gandhi killing led to India declaring it as a banned outfit.
The assassination sparked riots in Tamil Nadu and Congress workers targeted DMK offices and leaders since Karunanidhi had given a free hand for pro-Eelam militant outfits to operate in the State.