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Sep 01, 2011 at 05:59pm IST

Rajiv case: Centre steers clear of mercy petition controversy

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday steered clear of the controversy over Tamil Nadu Assembly asking the President to reconsider the mercy pleas of Rajiv Gandhi's killers but said as long as death sentence is legal, courts will continue to award it.

"Since there are court proceedings, I can't comment on anything concerning the decision taken by the President or the resolution passed by the Assembly," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi.

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He was responding to questions on the adoption of a resolution by the Tamil Nadu Assembly requesting President Pratibha Patil to reconsider the mercy petitions of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts - Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, and the Madras High Court's order staying their execution for eight weeks.

Rajiv case: Centre steers clear of mercy plea row

As long as death sentence is legal, courts will continue to award it, said Home Minister P Chidambaram.

"No comment as the matter is pending in the court. I can't comment on the response (to be give to the court by the Home Ministry) unless the Ministry receives the notice of the court on the writ petition and the contents of the writ petition," he said.

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Chidambaram said there have been precedents when people have moved courts after rejection of mercy petitions of death row convicts by the President.

"Yes, there have been earlier cases where after the decision of the President, people have gone to the courts. People have gone to court in Assam, people have gone to court in Delhi recently. I am sure that in the past also there would be cases where people have gone to courts after the President's decision," he said.

Asked about the relevance of death penalty, the Home Minister said it was a larger question which has to be debated in a separate forum.