CHENNAI: The PMK and the MDMK, BJP’s alliance partners in Tamil Nadu, requested the Centre not to oppose in the Supreme Court the release of seven accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
PMK founder S Ramadoss and MDMK leader Vaiko issued statements following the reports that the NDA government had decided to maintain the UPA regime’s stand on the issue in the Supreme Court.
“The reports of Centre’s decision to oppose the release have come as shock to us. The seven people are innocents and they have no role in the assassination,” Ramadoss said in his statement.
He said the court convicted them as the confessional statement of Perarivalan (one of the three death convicts) was recorded under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). “He gave the confession due to the torture,” Ramadoss alleged.
Of the seven, three — Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan — were awarded death sentence in 2001. The Supreme Court commuted their capital punishment to life sentence on February 18 of this year on the ground that they have undergone long period of imprisonment and that there was inexplicable delay in deciding their mercy pleas.
A day after the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of the three men, the Tamil Nadu cabinet decided to release them and other convicts after due consultations with the Centre.
“The cabinet has taken a decision to release the three convicts, Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan, along with those four, Nalini, Robert Pyas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran who are undergoing life sentence. The decision will be conveyed to the Centre for appropriate action. If we don’t get their response in three days, we will release all convicts in accordance with the rights granted under the Code of Criminal Procedure,” chief minister J Jayalalithaa had informed the state assembly.
Ramadoss said that the NDA government should not approach the case as the previous UPA government. “It should be seen with human rights angle. I urge the NDA government to agree for the release of seven people who have been suffering for 23 years in the prison” he added.
On his part, Vaiko said the mercy petitions of three death convicts were rejected by the Congress government after 11 years. “Most of the countries have abolished death sentence. So the Centre should approach the case with humanitarian grounds,” he urged in the statement.
Ramadoss and Vaiko quoted the recent statement of retired CBI SP V Thiagarajan that the investigative agency had altered the words of Perarivalan which eventually led to his conviction.