New Delhi: A retired Supreme Court judge who was part of a three-member bench which confirmed the conviction of Rajiv Gandhi assassins in 1999 has called on Congress chief and the former PM’s widow Sonia Gandhi to convey her “willingness” for remission of the convicts' sentences.
In a letter to Sonia Gandhi, Justice (Retd) KT Thomas cited the 1964 release of Gopal Godse, brother of main accused Nathuram Godse, in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Thomas also referred to the Centre’s objection in 2014 to the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to grant remission to the convicts.
“Perhaps the Union government would agree if you and Rahulji (if possible Priyankaji also) would write to the President of India conveying your willingness to grant remission to these persons who have already spent the longest period of their life in prison,” the letter dated October 18 reportedly said.
“As the judge who passed the judgment against these persons I now feel that I should address this letter to you so that you can show magnanimity in the situation,” it added.
Justice (Retd) Thomas also faulted the CBI probe into the case, referring to the seizure of Rs 40 lakh in cash from the convicts, The Indian Express reported.
“I also feel that God Almighty will only be pleased by showing the magnanimity to those prisoners. I may be excused if I have done anything wrong in requesting you as above,” Thomas concluded the letter.
Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, and seven persons — Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran — were convicted in the case.
Payas and Jayakumar were sentenced to death for their role in the assassination, but their sentence was later commuted to life by the Supreme Court in 1999.
The death penalty of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan was commuted to life by the apex court in 2014 on the ground of inordinate delay in disposing of their mercy petitions by the President.
Nalini was first awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court and subsequently the Tamil Nadu government under Article 161 of the Constitution commuted her sentence to life on April 24, 2000.