Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered a stay on hanging of Murugan alias Sriharan, Santhan and Perarivalan alias Arivu convicted for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination for another eight weeks, giving them a brief reprieve.
Twenty one years after the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, it's now at least another eight more weeks of legal drama before a decision is taken on whether or not three of the convicts in the case will be hanged.
The hanging of the three convicts was cleared by the President, but it took Rashtrapati Bhavan 11 long years to turn down their mercy pleas. It's this delay that's given the convicts the grounds to challenge their execution at the Madras High court.
"It has 11 years and four months delay in disposing off the petition. The delay unless properly explained and justified makes death penalty immoral, illegal and according to me unconstitutional," said senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani.
On the one hand the legalities will be discussed inside the court room, but outside court, political noise has been loud and they amplify the emotional appeal of relatives of the convicts like those from the mother of Peraraivalan alias Arasu. He is the only Indian national to face death row, the other two Sriharan and Santhan are Sri Lankan Tamils.
Peraraivalan's mother K Arputhammal hopes these protests will ensure clemency. "I am very hopeful now. Earlier, I wasn't sure what will happen, but after this stay order, I think, he will come back to me. No mother should suffer like this," said Arputhammal.
Mid Piece to Camera ; Sanjay Suri "In England Harithra the daughter of Nalini and Sriharan welcomed the stay and she said her parents have expressed remorse for the events of 1991 and she made an emotional appeal to have her father's death sentence commuted.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who had on Monday stated that constitutionally it is not in her hand, on Tuesday supported a resolution in the Assembly asking for clemency for the convicts.
The main stream political parties cannot afford to ignore the sentiment expressed by hardliners like Vaiko. The Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution seeking the center's intervention to commute the death sentences - This a day after Jayalalithaa declared that the matter is not in her hands. But the politics apart the focus will be on the legalities of case and how long this will be argued before a final decision.