The Supreme Court has dismissed the government's review petition on the judgment commuting the death penalty given to Rajiv Gandhi murder convicts Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. The court, while dismissing the petition, said that the plea for review had no merit and, was dismissed accordingly. The government had contended that the bench had ignored the merits of the case and ventured into the government 's domain by commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment.
It had further contended that the said judgment was passed without due jurisdiction by the 3-judge bench instead of by a larger bench as the case involved substantial interpretation of law and constitutional provisions. The government had submitted that the judgment was illegal, errorneous and violative of the accepted principles of law. The issue raised by the convicts was that of the commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment due to exceptional delay in execution, which allegedly invited Article 21 (Right To Life) in their favour. Thus, said the government, it involved a substantial issue of constitutional interpretation and required to be heard by a larger bench, as mandated by the Constitution.
The three convicts had approached the apex court against the death sentence, saying that there had been exceptional delay in deciding their mercy pleas. Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber during an election rally in Sriperumbedur in May, 1991.