Supreme Court may decide on death sentence commutation in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case today
New Delhi – The Supreme Court is likely to decide today whether to commute the death sentences of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case today on account of a long delay in their mercy petitions.
The three convicts – Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan – are hopeful after a recent judgement by the Supreme Court said that death sentence can be commuted if there is an inordinate and undue delay in deciding mercy petitions.
The mercy petitions of the three were rejected in 2011 by then President Pratibha Patil, which was challenged by them. Although the Supreme Court confirmed their death sentences in 2000, it took the President 11 years to reject their mercy plea.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a woman suicide bomber on May 21, 1991, at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
In 1998, a court had sentenced 26 people to death in the case. However, when the case reached the Supreme Court in 2000, capital punishment was confirmed only for four — Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.
Nalini’s death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment by the Tamil Nadu Governor in 2000 following a recommendation by the state cabinet and a public appeal by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The execution of the remaining three convicts, which was scheduled for September 9, 2011, was stayed by Madras High Court. The case has since been with the Supreme Court.