ecently, the government of Tamil Nadu decided to recommend to the Governor of that state, Banwarilal Purohit, the release of all the seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The state cabinet, which met under Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, passed a resolution in this regard under Article 161 of the Constitution. The resolution was for the release of Nalini Sriharan, Murugan alias Sriharan, Perarivalan alias Arivu, Robert Payas, Ravichandran, Santhan and Jayakumar, who are currently serving life in prison for their involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Supreme Court had earlier commuted their death sentence. The Tamil Nadu government’s move added impetus to the recent ruling of the apex court asking the Governor of Tamil Nadu to take a call on a petition filed by Perarivalan for his release as he has served a long time in prison. The Centre however has told the apex court that it is opposed to the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal to release the seven convicts. There are some who feel actions of the Supreme Court and the government of Tamil Nadu are valid in the light of the growing heft of opinion against punitive action that does not serve to be corrective. In the Rajiv assassination case, the persons currently serving prison terms may not be justified in seeking commutation of their sentences. Even the movement that was behind Rajiv’s assassination is itself now no more. One key factor that also cannot be ignored is the collective opinion of the families of those others who were killed in the blast along with Rajiv Gandhi. These people were killed for no fault of theirs and they did not have any direct link to the objective of the LTTE. In the wake of the Tamil Nadu government’s resolution, the Supreme Court has allowed relatives of the families of the other victims of the blast to amend their petition against the release of the convicts in the light of the new developments. The families are reportedly against the action of the Tamil Nadu government as they feel the government had overlooked the sufferings of these families for narrow political gains. The families argue that the government’s action would adversely impact the families of the victims and that it would set a bad precedent. The apex court has already had to commute the death sentences of the convicts owing to undue delay on the government’s part in implementing the court order. From the look of things it appears that closure would take much longer for both the convicts and families that have been affected by the Sriperumbudur blast. The case is still one that has much more to it than what meets the eye. The families of the victims of the blast may have a point to the extent that the incident affected their lives much more deeply than how much it may have affected the lives of the target of the attack. No militant organization or operative can ignore such facts when planning attacks driven by fierce loyalty to ideologies. In this light, the action to release the prisoners appears to be unjust.
Notwithstanding any political considerations, that blast was definitely well planned and premeditated. Crimes of this nature should never be pardoned. The planners of the murder motivated others to sacrifice their lives while implementing the crime. They are not in any ‘corrective’ camp. While those who planned the attack on Parliament could get hanged and then the nation boldly adopts new laws to hang those who rape minors, leaving these murderers to walk free would certainly give out signs of a skewed justice system. Those who advocate setting murderers free from prison need to be asked whether they would really show similar leniency if the victims happened to be their own parents, spouse or children or even close friends. It is easy for us all to sit in judgement in an impersonal atmosphere but attitudes would most likely change when the harm comes our way.