oppn parties SC Denies Tamil Nadu Govt the Right to Free Rajiv Killers

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SC Denies Tamil Nadu Govt the Right to Free Rajiv Killers

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court has done well to prevent the Tamil Nadu government from unilaterally commuting the life term of the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and releasing them. There were several technical issues in the case which would have set a bad precedent in left unchallenged or undecided and would have resulted in future tiffs between the Centre and the state governments.

The first point was what should be the length of life imprisonment in the case of a convict who was originally sentenced to death and whose death sentence was either commuted to life imprisonment by the Governor or the President, or by the court. The Supreme Court categorically stated that life imprisonment in such cases means imprisonment for the rest of their lives.

The second point was whether a state government is competent enough to commute the sentence of a life convict in cases where the investigation was done by a central agency like the CBI. The five judge bench of the apex court, headed by CJI H L Dattu, unanimously held that Section 435(1) of CrPC, when prescribing for consultation with the Central government, necessarily means that its concurrence must be obtained by the state government. Hence, it held that the state government is not competent enough to do so acting on its own volition. It also said the state government must also take the opinion of the court that convicted the person.

The Tamil Nadu government has been trying to score a political point by releasing the said killers of Tamil origin who killed Rajiv Gandhi for the alleged killing of Sri Lankan Tamils by the Indian Peace Keeping Force the former PM sent to Sri Lanka under an agreement with the then government of that country. But in doing so, it is trying to flout laws which the Supreme Court has rightly not allowed.