Wages of terrorism: Release of Rajiv killers raises key questions - The Tribune India

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Wages of terrorism

Release of Rajiv killers raises key questions

Wages of terrorism


The Supreme Court’s order on the premature release of the remaining six convicts serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has elicited deeply divisive responses. A wrong signal should not emerge that acts of terrorism are pardonable. Or the more erroneous, and again presumably wholly unintended, message that public sentiment, such as in Tamil Nadu on the issue, does have a bearing. There’s also an element of awkwardness because Sonia Gandhi and her children have, over the years, made known that they are not averse to leniency. A family’s attempt to bring closure to a horrific incident that scarred their lives can only be a matter of personal choice.

Rajiv’s assassination in 1991 was seen as retaliation by Tamil separatist outfit LTTE for India’s involvement in Sri Lanka’s civil war, after a peacekeeping force was sent there in 1987 when he was PM. The six had spent more than 30 years in jail, like fellow convict Perarivalan. He was prematurely released in May by the top court. That judgment had concluded that the State of Tamil Nadu, and not the Union, had the exclusive power to recommend remission in the case. The Governor, it noted, was bound by the advice in 2018 of the Cabinet in cases of murder as their conviction under the now-lapsed TADA was set aside by the top court. The delay by the Governor to decide on Perarivalan’s pardon compelled it to exercise extraordinary powers under Article 142, the Bench concluded.

Life imprisonment means a convict has to be in prison till he breathes his last. The State has the prerogative to release a lifer who has served 14 years, based on various parameters. The Congress’ reaction, terming the ruling unacceptable and not being in consonance with the spirit of India, throws up pertinent questions. Do assassination convicts deserve premature release? There is also no blanket provision for release after serving a certain period of time. And, should the SC not have considered the matter at greater length? Similar cases of clemency are bound to crop up.

#Rajiv Gandhi #Supreme Court


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