Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Congress ‘deeply saddened, disappointed’ by release

Congress on Wednesday expressed sorrow and frustration over the release of AG Perarivalan, convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, and condemned the government for creating “a situation” in court that the former prime minister’s assassin was released for “trivial and cheap politics”. Randeep Surjewala, chief spokesperson of the Congress, said that today there is sadness and resentment not only in every Congress worker but also in every citizen who believes in India and Indianness.

“A terrorist is a terrorist and he should be treated as one. Today, we are deeply saddened and disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to order the release of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin,” he said.

He said it was reprehensible and extremely sad that the assassin of a former prime minister had been released.

“Today is a sad day for the country. There is sadness and resentment not only in every Congress worker, but in every Indian who believes in India and Indianness, who believes in the fight against extremism and who challenges the sovereignty and integrity of all forces.” He told reporters.

He also wondered if millions of people facing life imprisonment should be released.

This is not about Rajiv Gandhi, but about a prime minister who was assassinated, he said, adding that the soul of every person fighting terrorism has been hurt.

“Rajiv sacrificed his life for the country, not for the Congress. And it would be very sad and reprehensible if today’s government created a situation in court to release his killers for their petty and cheap politics.

“We condemn it as strongly as possible. All Indians must see what kind of government is in power today and what their attitude is towards extremism,” he said.

Exercising its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, who has been in jail for more than 30 years in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageshwar Rao said the recommendation of premature release of seven convicts in the case on the advice of the Tamil Nadu state cabinet was mandatory for the governor.

The apex court also rejected the Centre’s argument that the President has the exclusive power to grant amnesty in a case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, saying that it would invalidate Article 161 (Governor’s power to grant amnesty).

The bench comprising Justice BR Gavai said the states have the power to advise and assist the governors of the states in the case of pardon under Article 161 framed by the convicts in the murder case.

Article 142 of the Constitution relates to the power of the Supreme Court to exercise its jurisdiction and to order for full justice in any cause or matter pending before it. The article was also used in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

The Center had earlier defended the decision of the Tamil Nadu governor to send Perarivalan’s mercy petition to the President.

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