Supreme Court commutes death penalty of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination convicts to life imprisonment

The Supreme Court of India commuted the death penalty of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers today on February 18, 2014.The three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case have been spared the gallows.

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The judgment was delivered by a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, which had reserved its verdict on the plea of three convicts — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan — on February 4.

Their plea was strongly opposed by the Center which had said that it was not a fit case for the apex court to commute death sentence on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

Admitting that there has been delay in deciding the mercy petitions, the government, however, had contended that the delay was not unreasonable, unexplainable and unconscionable to commute death penalty.

The counsel, appearing for the convicts, had contested the Center’s arguments, saying that they have suffered due to the delay by the government in deciding the mercy petitions and the apex court should intervene and commute their death sentence to life term.

The convicts had submitted that mercy plea of other condemned prisoners, which were filed after them, were decided but their petitions were kept pending by the government.

The apex court had, in May 2012, decided to adjudicate the petitions of Rajiv Gandhi killers against their death penalty and had directed that their plea, pending with the Madras high court, be sent to it.

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