The NDA government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s killers do not deserve any mercy and his assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals.
Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar opened the Centre’s arguments before a constitution bench that is examining whether the Tamil Nadu government could have granted remission to the former PM’s assassins who were prosecuted by central probe agency, the CBI.
“Our former Prime Minister was killed by these people. There was a conspiracy to kill him in which foreign nationals were also involved. What mercy is to be seen or shown? This is to be looked by you,” the government law officer told the bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu.
Kumar said the killers’ mercy plea was rejected both by the President and also the state governor. “So what mercy is being argued?” he said, questioning the state’s move.
The SG made his submission in response to senior counsel Ram Jethmalani’s statement that the seven convicts including a woman deserved mercy. He recalled the history of the judicial proceedings related to the case in which the top court had finally commuted the death sentences to life. SC had in February last year gave relief to them, rejecting the Centre’s stand that the 11-year delay by the President in deciding their mercy petition was agony for them.
Jethmalani alongwith the Tamil Nadu government also challenged the Centre’s petition before the SC on the ground it was not maintainable. They questioned the move to invoke SC’s jurisdiction under Article 32 in the case, contending the state’s decision did not violate the Centre’s fundamental right.
The bench, however, observed: “The Supreme Court commuted the convicts' death penalty to life. The victims did not complain. But here the state government further tinkers with our judgement. Can CBI through the Centre not move under Article 32 of the Constitution? After all, it's CBI probe which got them death penalty.”
It said the Centre had a parental duty to voice the grief of those who died or got injured during the assassination in 1991.