ibnlive » India

May 01, 2012 at 03:00pm IST

Rajiv Gandhi assassination: SC to hear convicts' plea

New Delhi: In a breather of sorts for the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed their mercy plea case to be transferred outside Tamil Nadu. The hearing of the mercy plea case will now take place in the apex court.

It must be noted that their plea had earlier been rejected by the Supreme Court. The plea was filed by Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, the convicts in the case. This trio had earlier sought a stay on their execution on the ground that the President had taken 11 years in deposing their mercy pleas.

Reacting to the decision of the apex court, MDMK chief Vaiko, who has been fighting to save the three convicts, said he would continue his efforts. He said, "There is no political interference in Tamil Nadu. I will continue my efforts to save the three."

A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi directed that their petitions, pending with the Madras High Court, be sent to it and listed the case for hearing on July 10.

The court passed the order on a petition by one L K Venkat seeking transfer of their pleas out of Tamil Nadu on his fears that the free and fair hearings would not possible in the state due to the surcharged atmosphere, favouring the death row convicts.

The Tamil Nadu government earlier on October 10, 2011 had opposed the plea to shift the case out of the Madras High Court denying the allegations that the atmosphere in the state was too "vitiated and surcharged" to hold a free and fair hearing in the case.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the three death row convicts, too had opposed the transfer plea on the ground that Article 139A (relating to transfer of certain cases) gives power only to the Attorney General of India or the aggrieved parties to file a petition for transfer.

Venkat's counsel had, however, submitted that a free and fair hearing of the proceedings cannot be held in the Madras High Court owing to the "surcharged, hostile and vitiated" atmosphere prevailing there.

On a petition by the three death row convicts, the Madras High Court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.

The three convicts had challenged before the high court, the sentence despite the same having been upheld earlier by the apex court and the President having rejected their mercy pleas subsequently.

(With Additional Inputs from PTI)