The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentences given to three of Rajiv Gandhi's assassins to life imprisonment. The ruling is in line with its earlier judgement wherein the court had held undue delay in deciding a mercy plea a valid ground for such relief. The court further said that life imprisonment would mean life in jail till natural death.
The court has called the 11-year delay dehumanising. The court rejected the government contention that the delay did not cause them any agony as the convicts enjoyed their lives while the mercy plea was pending. The bench, while calling the delay unreasonable, implored the government to decide the mercy pleas in reasonable time.
The three assassins - Murugan, Perarivlan and Santhan had sought a commutation of their death sentence due to inordinate delay in deciding their mercy petitions. While rejecting the government's contention that the death row convicts must prove torture and dehumanisation during the pendency of the mercy petition, the court ruled that there was is nothing in Indian law that puts this on the convicts.