The family members of Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran, aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, Tuesday expressed their happiness over the apex court's judgment commuting their death sentence to life imprisonment.
Speaking to IANS, Madaiah's son M Paramasivam said: "We are happy at the news. I will soon go and meet my father."
Paramasivam is a daily wage earner living in Tamil Nadu.
Madaiah, Bilavendran, Gnanprakasham and Simon Antonyiappa were sentenced to death for killing 22 people, including policemen, in a landmine blast near Palar bridge on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border in 1993.
Last year, President Pranab Mukherjee rejected their mercy petitions filed in 2004.
"It is a welcome judgment. It is a good judgment. We hail Chief Justice P. Sathasivam," Kulandai Samy, brother-in-law of Bilavendran, told IANS.
The apex court, in a landmark decision Tuesday, held that if there is an inordinate delay on the part of the government in deciding on the mercy petitions of death row convicts, their sentence could be commuted to life imprisonment.
The decision will have an impact on other convicts facing the noose for many years.
"It is a positive judgment. It underscores the democratic values of India," S. Balamurugan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu wing of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, told IANS.
K Muniswamy Veerappan Gounder, widely known as Veerappan, was killed in a gun battle with police in October 2004.