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What sense does freeing Rajiv Gandhi's killers make to the common Indian?

Rajiv Gandhi, the youngest Prime Minister of India was assassinated on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. He was there for an election campaign when he was not in power.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) took responsibility for Rajiv's killing. It was a human bomb which exploded and took life of Rajiv along with 17 other innocent people.

The Special Investigation Team proved the role of LTTE and in 1998 four persons were sentenced to death namely Santhan, Murugan , Perarivalan and Nalini. Their mercy petition was sent to President in the year 2000 and after 11 years it was rejected by the President in 2011.

This decision was challenged in Supreme Court and in in 2014, the Apex Court commuted death sentence of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to life for inordinate delay in hearing the mercy petition by the President. Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan along with other four are facing more than 21 years of jail term.

Nalini's death sentence was earlier commuted to life on Sonia Gandhi's intervention based on long delay in hearing mercy petition on reasons that it leads to double sentence (jail term as well as capital punishment).

As soon as the Supreme Court pronounced the verdict, the Tamil Nadu government passed a cabinet decision saying that it will release all 7 convicts who are service in jail for 21 plus years. The prompt announcement of release sent a wrong message in to the people of this country in multiple ways.

The state government failed to follow the due process of law to release the convicts who served jail more than 14 years. A committee should have been constituted to find out the good conduct of convicts, prolonged sufferings and other pros and cons associated with the convicts.' The report then should be submitted to the state government.

Based on the report the state government has to consult (even though centre's view is not binding on state government) with centre and has to decide on freeing of the convicts. But the Tamil Nadu government took unilateral decisions and sent it is decision to Central Government with deadline of three days for its response.

The state government has the right to release convicts who have completed 14 years in jail after considering their good conduct.

The decision of freeing the convicts may be right but the means adopted was wrong. As this will have repercussions in other parts of the country mainly in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. Citing Tamil Nadu government's decision as an example, such states can also release the convicts who belonged to their state.

Tamil Nadu has failed to convince the larger audience on the fact behind the convict's release. The prompt resolution sent a message that it was a political decision for vote bank politics rather than a genuine decision based on 21 plus of suffering which is more than that of life sentence.

The freeing of Rajiv Gandhi's killer do not make any sense to the common Indian. The Supreme Court was right in giving stay to the Tamil Nadu government's decision.

Govind Prakash

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