With 11 days left for the hanging of three assassins of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, a fresh petition seeking review of the President’s order rejecting their clemency pleas will come up for hearing before the Madras high court on Tuesday.
But the politics over the fate of the killers — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan — hotted up. The DMK blamed Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa for doing little to push for clemency for the trio, the CM said she was helpless and the Congress chose silence.Blaming the Jayalalithaa government, DMK chief M Karunanidhi appealed to the Centre to save the three lives.
“Had young leader Rajiv Gandhi been alive today, that noble man would have definitely come forward to save the lives of Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan, responding to the voice of true Tamils and in accordance with the golden saying of Anna — forgive and forget,” he said.
Jayalalithaa said, “I request leaders of political parties and others to desist from running a campaign as if I have
the powers to commute the death sentence.”
Jayalalithaa accused Karunanidhi of playing politics and enacting a farce as “it was the DMK government which had recommended commutation of the sentence of Nalini in April 2000, ignoring the fate of the others.”
She said the only way forward was to file a fresh mercy plea before the President.
Jayalalithaa quoted a home ministry directive of 1991 which made it clear that when a petition for grant of pardon in death sentences has earlier been rejected by the President, it would not be open for the State to invoke Article 161 to commute the death sentence.
“The Congress party has no view either way. We are certainly not commenting. It is a constitutional, legal and administrative process,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said. When a reporter pointed out that the DMK is part of the UPA, he said, “The DMK is not the Congress.”
What has worried Tamil Nadu authorities is that a young woman committed self-immolation at Kancheepuram on Sunday evening, seeking clemency for the killers. C Senkodi, a 21-year-old unmarried woman from the Irula tribal community, had raised slogans seeking release of the three death row convicts.
In their separate petitions, the killers sought that the presidential order of August 12 be set aside and their death sentences be commuted to life imprisonment because of the “undue delay” in disposing of their mercy petitions.