Centre, Cong slam TN govt move

Centre, Cong slam TN govt move

Upset with the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free Rajiv Gandhi killers, the Centre and the Congress on Wednesday came out against the move describing it as “irresponsible, perverse and populist”.

“The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set free all seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is extremely unfortunate,” Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said.
The Congress also sought to set the record straight on the issue, as leaders from Tamil Nadu were uncomfortable on opposing the move due to electoral considerations, saying the party stand on the issue is clear that “any perverse decision is also liable for judicial scrutiny”.

At a briefing, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party has already made it clear that it has no issue with the Supreme Court order commuting the death sentence of Rajiv killers to life imprisonment but there is a difference between commutation and release or remission.

He said every state has powers of remission but these are the powers, which are to be exercised by Constitutional functionaries in the light of rules and regulations and the spirit of any judicial order.

“The nation cannot forget that it lost not only its former prime minister but also 17 other Indian citizens including Tamils to terrorism.”“We condemn unequivocally such irresponsible statements and decisions by such Constitutional functionaries. Such decisions announced in such casual fashion and cavalier manner need to be condemned irrespective of regional, populist and other considerations.”

“This decision fails to take into account the scourge of terrorism and the spirit of Constitution,” he added.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram said he cannot say he is unhappy over the commutation of the death sentence of three convicts in the Rajiv assassination case but still there was irreparable grief over the brutal killing of Rajiv Gandhi.

“That grief will always remain. The Supreme Court has not declared them innocent. That’s the main point. If they walk free they will walk free 20-22 years. So that’s it. If that is the punishment the court felt they should suffer so be it. I do not have to say that I am happy or unhappy,” he said.

Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the government respects the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Those who assassinated Rajiv Gandhi should not be given any relief; that is the position of the Attorney General. Now the court has rendered a decision. We must naturally abide by it. We may or may not agree with it but we must abide by it. We want to know the BJP’s reaction. They (BJP) were baying for the blood of Afzal Guru and I am surprised that when it comes to other assassins, they don’t even utter a word. I think BJP has something to answer to,” he said. In a statement, Amnesty International India said it is very encouraging decision.

“After the historic verdict in January in which the Supreme Court held that ‘inordinate and inexplicable delays’ in carrying out executions were grounds to reduce penalties awarded to prisoners, today’s decision to spare the lives of these three prisoners is a welcome judgment that shows the judiciary’s willingness to uphold standards it set down for the treatment of prisoners on death row,” it said.

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