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Constitutionally incorrect to hang Rajiv killers now, says Judge

24 February 2013 07:35 am - 32     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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CHENNAI: It would be 'constitutionally incorrect' now to hang the three people sentenced to death in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, said Justice K T Thomas, who headed the Supreme Court bench that confirmed the death sentences. "It was my misfortune to have presided over that bench," he told TOI.

More than 13 years ago, it was a three-judge bench headed by Justice Thomas that confirmed death sentence for Nalini Sriharan, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. Nalini's death penalty was commuted to imprisonment for life by Tamil Nadu governor in April 2000 on the basis of a recommendation of the state cabinet and a public appeal by Sonia Gandhi. The TADA had originally awarded death sentence to all the 26 accused persons. When the matter reached the Supreme Court, which was the only appellate forum under theRajiv Gan as a referred trial, capital punishment was confirmed only for four.

In an interview, Justice Thomas said the judgment itself had 'errors' as the death sentences had not considered the antecedents, nature and character of the accused. Hence any decision to hang the three could now be termed as 'constitutionally incorrect' and a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, he told TOI. Going a step further, the judge said case deserved a review, considering the antecedents and character of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.

"At a time when the Supreme Court bench headed by me pronounced judgments in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, apparently, we did not consider the nature and character of the accused who were sentenced to death penalty by us. It was only many years thereafter a bench headed by Justice S B Sinha pointed out that without considering the nature and character of accused, a death sentence should never be awarded. His judgments mentioned errors in previous SC judgments and that applies to Rajiv Gandhi assassination case," he said.

Also, he pointed out the three have been in prison for 22 years. "For any life imprisonment, every prisoner is entitled to have a right to get his case reviewed by the jail authorities (to determine) whether remission can be announced or not. Since the accused in Rajiv Gandhi case were death convicts, they underwent a long period of imprisonment without even having the benefit of life imprisonment," he said. "This appears to be a third type of sentence, something which is unheard and constitutionally incorrect. If they are hanged today or tomorrow, they will be subjected to two penalties for one offense."

In 1999, Justice Thomas had agreed with two others on the bench in respect of death penalty for only Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. As for Murugan's wife Nalini, he gave a dissenting, but minority, verdict preferring imprisonment for life.

When TOI contacted Justice V R Krishna Iyer, former judge of the Supreme Court, he said death penalty could not be considered as a punishment. "It is just another act of murder, a judicial murder, by the state. It is high time for India to abolish death penalty and India has not gained anything from death penalties in the past," he said.

The three death convicts have completed almost 22 years of imprisonment. Their execution, which was scheduled to be held on September 9, 2011, was stayed by the Madras high court for six weeks in August that year. The case has since been transferred to the Supreme Court, to be decided after the Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar case verdict is delivered.
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  Comments - 32

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  • Pon Monday, 25 February 2013 09:39 PM

    How about Chandrasamy and Subramaniyasamy. They were not investigated. These two culprits planned the killing and are safe now.

    rumi Sunday, 24 February 2013 03:51 PM

    so nay can kill and escape- Thomas- are you a judge-?

    MountainLion Sunday, 24 February 2013 04:04 PM

    As Buddhist we have no right to take any ones life, constitutionally or not.

    stupid Sunday, 24 February 2013 05:18 PM

    The supreme court is one for whole india their are no seperate supreme court for each state just dont comment without knowing the basics

    Anura Monday, 25 February 2013 12:00 AM

    First hand Jayalalitha and Karunanidi for their crimes. Then hang these criminals. via DM Android App

    Lucky Weeramantry Sunday, 24 February 2013 10:26 PM

    Nobody Cares What Happens, As Both Leaders Are Dead. The War Is Over.

    nadarajah rajendra Sunday, 24 February 2013 11:14 PM

    India Release them immediately
    Nadarajah Rajendra
    Germany

    Gayan Monday, 25 February 2013 02:07 PM

    Yes it is constititionaly incorrect to hang the people/org whom India themself created.

    ashok Sunday, 24 February 2013 08:10 AM

    O am confused

    Libra Sunday, 24 February 2013 08:20 AM

    He says the judgement was an error and the death sentence should not have been imposed?????? Wondering what if the death sentences were conducted on time, then these convicts would have been dead by now. What an error of judgement!!! Not surprising though, since this is Tamil Nadu, the kingdom of the blind rulers!!

    DHA Sunday, 24 February 2013 08:16 AM

    The most controversial hanging case ever.....this shows how powerful politicians are over supreme court rulings......justice should be equal to all....

    nalaka Sunday, 24 February 2013 12:00 AM

    feel sorry for shri rajiv looks like TN wanted him killed because they are openly supporting LTTE via DM Android App

    mackie noohuthambi Sunday, 24 February 2013 09:03 AM

    Justice delayed is Justice denied. This is the case with all courts. This type of judgement after a prolonged period of 22 years of lengthy imprisonement will lead both the losers of the family and killers a sort of tiredness, and they will think what is the use of killing the killers of after 22 years. The tit for tat should be done at once. Even the judges with turn the table around.

    Lucky Weeramantry Monday, 25 February 2013 08:38 AM

    Are They Going To Hang The Dead

    Lucky Weeramantry Monday, 25 February 2013 08:50 AM

    Judges Also Feeling The Heat.

    nawaladykamila Sunday, 24 February 2013 09:43 AM

    wonderful penalties!

    Dr.Gayatri.P Tuesday, 26 February 2013 03:15 AM

    The incident occurred in India.The culprits are in Indian custody.Why should be break our heads over this issue?If it is an Islamic nation then paying blood money is an option.

    Ranil Sunday, 24 February 2013 09:56 AM

    Don't worry mr.justice you can hang them non of the sub continent countries follow the constitution. If you need this to be justified we can send our psc to assist that spineles singh of yours who dance to the tune of usa and that old fart jj of tamil nadu

    AANTON Sunday, 24 February 2013 10:29 AM

    ANOTHERRRRRR FOURRRRRR FORRRRR MOTHERRRR
    INDIA.

    Asoka Sunday, 24 February 2013 10:41 AM

    Indian justice for Muslims is different?. Hindustan justice for hindus is different?

    Joke Tuesday, 26 February 2013 03:30 AM

    Sri Lankan rulers are deaf,dumb, blind and illiterate thugs!!!

    devinda ferdinando Sunday, 24 February 2013 10:49 AM

    Rajiv Gndhi must be turning in his grave

    YOU AND ME Monday, 25 February 2013 09:33 AM

    idiot

    Nishantha Sunday, 24 February 2013 11:12 AM

    If they feel the Judges have given a wrong verdict,....hang those Judges instead......

    xlntgson Sunday, 24 February 2013 11:11 AM

    Approvers killed, conspirators who refused to confess should be pardoned, eh? Who is unfortunate you or the victims? Paid and politcized judicial officers are not fit for jury! Don't preach on deterrent, foreign agent

    kandykolla Monday, 25 February 2013 04:20 AM

    Is it constitutionally correct to hang Ajmal Qasab and Afzal Guru ?? before these gentlemen the people who killed your prime minister should be hanged in public !! I see more countries coming out of India in near future ...!!

    Suthu and sunni Sunday, 24 February 2013 11:55 AM

    All singles are ba

    Ranjit Sunday, 24 February 2013 12:28 PM

    Get Balamalu Wimal's advise if you have any constitutional problem.

    lal Sunday, 24 February 2013 12:42 PM

    Shows the impact of an election around the corner and the influence of Tamil Nadu parties have on the thinking of the Central government.

    Raj Monday, 25 February 2013 10:52 AM

    Looks like KTT has no backborne

    Mason Sunday, 24 February 2013 02:03 PM

    Will this be a judicial decision or political decision. In today's context it appears more of a political one.

    YOU AND ME Sunday, 24 February 2013 02:28 PM

    THAT IS RIGHT. THANKS TO MR AND HIS ACTIONS AGAINST TO TAMILS IN SL


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