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The realpolitik of capital punishment

A former PM's assassin, convicted by SC, A co-conspirator in a daring attack on the highest seat of governance convicted by SC, A serving CM's killer convicted by a sessions court, all sentenced to death, but politics keeps them alive and kicking at the expense of the state exchequer.

delhi Updated: Mar 28, 2012 00:39 IST
HT Correspondent

A former PM's assassin, convicted by SC

A co-conspirator in a daring attack on the highest seat of governance convicted by SC

A serving CM's killer convicted by a sessions court

All sentenced to death, but politics keeps them alive and kicking at the expense of the state exchequer.

In the case of Rajiv Gandhi's killers, the highest court of law in the country reaffirmed its 1998 verdict in 2000.

And on August 11, 2011 even President Pratibha Patil rejected the mercy pleas of the three convicts — Murugan, Santhan and Arivu — in the 1991 case, but the Madras HC ordered a stay on their execution on August 30 2011.

Parties have time and again sought to derive political mileage by stirring the humanity versus capital punishment debate. Reactions range from a demand for freedom to clemency. The Tamil Nadu assembly had in August 2011, passed a resolution urging the President to reconsider her decision to reject their clemency plea.

In the case of Afzal Guru, even after nine years of its pronouncement, the death penalty lies in abeyance, as both the Centre and the President's office are slow on the case given its political ramifications in J&K.

While ruling NC president Farooq Abdullah has sought speedy implementation of the sentence, the PDP continues its opposition.

The latest is the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was waiting on the sidelines to blow himself up if the first assassin failed to kill Beant Singh. And again politics has come in the way of his hanging. While the Akalis seek to derive mileage by securing clemency for Rajoana, even the Congress and BJP seem reluctant to take an unequivocal position on the matter that can stir emotions and bring back memories of terror-wracked years between the early '80s and the mid '90s.