The Centre on Tuesday took a tough stand against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, saying there was no concern left for victims of crimes and governments were simply drawing mileage by remitting sentences of convicts held guilty by courts.
“Today, we all look at the convicts and sympathise with them. But there is no one to speak about the victims or the destruction caused by these convicts, and what these people hold to ransom,” solicitor general Ranjit Kumar told the Supreme Court.
The law officer’s submission came when a constitution bench headed by chief justice HL Dattu -- hearing the Centre’s petition against the J Jayalalithaa administration’s order to release the killers before they could complete their jail term -- told him the law allowed state governments to remit sentences.
“We share your sentiment but the law grants them (state governments) the power. How can the court restrict them from implementing the law,” the bench told the solicitor general.
The specific provision under debate between the bench and law officer was section 433A of the CrPC under which the Tamil Nadu government ordered the release of the seven convicts. An SC bench headed by then chief justice P Sathasivam had last year commuted their death sentence to life after holding there was an inordinate delay in deciding their mercy petitions that were dismissed by the President.
Kumar argued the executive, which advises the President or governor to whether to accept or reject a mercy petition, cannot give a different opinion when the convict seeks remission in case the death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.
He said litigation in such cases should end. According to him states should take judicial opinion before deciding to remit sentences. “Advice of the court that gives a final judgement in the case must be taken,” he told the bench.