Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Retired SC judge asks Sonia Gandhi to 'show magnanimity,' support remission of convicts' sentences

A retired judge of the Supreme Court, who was a part of the three-member bench which confirmed the conviction of former prime minister  Rajiv Gandhi's assassins in 1999, has written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking her “willingness” for the remission of the convicts' sentences. The BJP is not releasing the convicts fearing a backlash, the judge added.

 Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Retired SC judge asks Sonia Gandhi to show magnanimity, support remission of convicts sentences

File image of Rajiv Gandhi. Reuters

According to The Indian Express, in the letter dated 18 October, Justice (retired) KT Thomas pointed out that a decision to grant remission by the Tamil Nadu government in 2014 was opposed by the Centre, and the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas cited the Centre's decision to release Gopal Godse, brother of main accused Nathuram Godse, who served 14 years' imprisonment in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, News 18 reported.

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur on 21 May, 1991, and seven persons — Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran — were convicted in the case. Payas and Jayakumar were sentenced to death, but their sentence was later commuted to life by the Supreme Court in 1999, News 18 said.

Justice Thomas ended the letter saying that he feels that compassion should be shown to the convicts at this age. “I also feel that God Almighty will only be pleased by showing the magnanimity to those prisoners. I may be excused if I have done anything wrong in requesting you as above,” the letter stated. Thomas also clarified that he understands they are considered as the killers of Rajiv Gandhi but he is requesting Sonia to have compassion at this stage.


In 2015, the Centre had asserted in the Supreme Court that the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did not deserve any mercy as the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals. "Our former prime minister was killed by these people. There was a conspiracy to kill him in which foreign nationals were also involved. What mercy is to be seen or shown? This is to be looked by you (apex court).

The same year, in December, the Supreme Court had said that the Tamil Nadu government has no suo motu power to grant remission and release the convicts accused of conspiracy in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.The apex court constitution bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said that the state government could grant remission and release the convicts only in consultation with the central government as the case was investigated and prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Nov 16, 2017 16:57:14 IST