Rajiv case: Public sentiment must be respected, TN tells SC

Rajiv case: Public sentiment must be respected, TN tells SC

Questioning the Centre for sitting over the mercy plea of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case for about 12 years, the Tamil Nadu (TN) government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that change in circumstances and public sentiments must be respected to allow their release.

Appearing for the TN government, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi submitted before a five-judge Constitution bench that the Central government, including UPA I & II which ruled for a decade, did not take a decision on the mercy plea between 2000 and 2012. The Union government had opposed the TN government’s decision to remit sentences of the convicts, contending no further mercy could be shown to them.“Why on earth did they not hang these people? A former prime minister was assassinated. If they (UPA) had moved one little finger, these people would have been hanged... was the reason behind this merciful, whimsical or political,” he asked, while admitting “yes, of course, it was serious matter and the act was a diabolic one”.

He maintained that even if the reason for ordering their release was political, there was nothing wrong in it. He justified the state government's decision to grant remission to the convicts.

“Politics is not a dirty word. All institutions are part of body politic, and of course, we need good politics in this country,” Dwivedi said, adding the state government acted in deference to the public sentiments.

“All parties, all the MLAs pleaded before us ‘don’t hang them’. Was a single finger moved by the Opposition?” the counsel said. On his submission, the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifullah, A M Sapre, P C Ghose and U U Lalit said that the court has not denied the power of remission to be exercised by the state but was only concerned if there was meaningful and effective consultation with the Centre before the order of remission. The state government can remit sentences of convicts only after “consultation” with the Centre in CBI-investigated cases, the Union government claimed.

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