Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has reiterated his opposition to death penalty. "I've already stated that even those who had committed the most heinous crime suffer pain for only a few minutes when they are subjected to death penalty. Death penalty does not permit the offenders to feel remorse and realize their mistakes during the rest of their lives. Hence death penalty needs to be reconsidered," he said in the Q&A section of the DMK organ Murasoli.
The DMK chief has timed his response to coincide with the controversy over the death penalty given to Afzal Guru, an accused in the attack on Parliament. By the same yardstick, Karunanidhi has indirectly opposed the death penalty to the three killers of Rajiv Gandhi.
The Supreme Court had confirmed the death penalty of 4 or of the 26 originally sentenced to death by a special court. The Tamil Nadu Governor Fathima Biwi had rejected the mercy petitions of the four – Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini- in October 1999. Even then Karunanidhi had opposed the death penalty saying only a life term would allow the guilty to realise their guilt.
Subsequently the four had filed clemency petitions to the President’s office. At the request of Sonia Gandhi, the President had commuted the death penalty of Nalini to life term since she had delivered a baby girl while in prison and also because the father, Murugan was on death row as well. Even Nalini’s life term of 14 years, since her arrest in May 1991, is over and officials of the Vellore Jail are awaiting her release orders.
Her 14-year-old daughter Arithra, being raised by Murugan’s mother in Colombo, is also waiting for an Indian visa to meet her parents.