SC commutes Rajiv killers' death term to life

SC commutes Rajiv killers' death term to life

 The Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted death penalty of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life term, saying over 11-year delay in disposal of their mercy petitions made their sentence “inexecutable”.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, provided relief to the condemned prisoners V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A G Perarivalan alias Arivu by sparing them the gallows.  All three have been in jail since 1991.

The three, at present lodged in Vellore jail, had been awarded death penalty by a Tada court in 1998 in the case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991. The apex court upheld their sentence in 1999.

On Tuesday, the apex court relied upon its January 21 verdict in the Shatrughan Chauhan case, wherein it had held that unreasonable delay in deciding mercy petitions qualified as the supervening circumstance, which warranted commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment. The court had then converted the death penalty of 15 convicts to life term.

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