The Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce its verdict on the plea of Rajiv Gandhi assassins who have challenged the Presidential rejection of their mercy petitions on the ground the decision came 11 years after it was filed.
A three-judges bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam had on February 4 reserved the judgment on the plea by the three death row convicts - Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan. The other judges are Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh. The verdict would be pronounced by the CJI.
SC took up the trio's case after it pronounced the historic verdict last month. On January 21 a bench headed by the CJI held inordinate and inexplicable delay in rejecting a mercy plea could be a ground for the court to commute death sentence to life imprisonment. With the ruling SC gave life to 15 death row convicts.
When the bench went into the pleadings by the Rajiv Gandhi assassins, it clarified the court would not go into the merits of the death penalty imposed.
"They deserve death sentence but the question is how long can they be confined in solitary confinement," the court had observed when senior counsel Ram Jethmalani argued on the merits of the death sentence verdict.
SC had in May, 2012 transferred the pleas of the convicts that was pending with the Madras High Court against the President's decision rejecting their mercy plea.
The court order came on a petition by one LK Venkat seeking transfer of their pleas out of Tamil Nadu on the ground that a free and fair hearing would not possible in the state due to the surcharged atmosphere, favouring the death row convicts.
On a petition by the three death row convicts, the Madras HC had earlier stayed their hanging and issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government. The petitioners have said that there was a delay in disposal of the mercy petitions by 11 years.