If one of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassins can be released, why not Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday questioned before the Supreme Court, while contending that interference into the power granted to the states to remit sentences would affect citizens’ fundamental right to liberty.
The state government submitted before a five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu that the statutory right of the executive to suspend or remit sentences of convicts must be respected as it gave a window of hope to the convicts.
“If the court asks the executive not to consider suspending or remitting sentences of convicts, then it would amount to denial of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution,” Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, representing the state government, submitted.
“The right to be considered for remission or stay of sentence is part of fundamental right to life. If there is no scope for any hope, then it would be the breach of the fundamental right,” he said before the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and U U Lalit.
Defending the decision to release the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, he said even one of the co-conspirators in the Mahatma Gandhi case was also released by the then government after he served jail term. “Within a short distance of the vicinity of the Supreme Court, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, whom we all worshipped, was released after serving 16 years imprisonment. Then why not Rajiv Gandhi case convicts, we should always leave window of hope open for the convicts,” Dwivedi said.