‘Seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case are also victims’

The seven convicts in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who are behind bars for nearly 28 years, were also victims like those others killed during the assassination, said D. Hariparanthaman, retired Judge of Madras High Court, here on Sunday.

He was referring to the case being moved now in the Supreme Court by the families of those killed against the release of the seven convicts.

“We understand their pain. But they must understand that these seven are also victims who have suffered a lot despite no direct involvement in the killing,” he said, while speaking at a conference organised by ‘Ezhu Tamizhar Viduthalai Iyakkam’ to appeal for the release of the seven convicts.

Raising suspicion over the politics behind filing of the case, he said that it will act as an easy excuse for Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to delay granting approval to the State Cabinet’s resolution to release the seven convicts. He stressed that the Governor had no powers to reject Cabinet’s resolution.

Pointing out that even the three convicts, who were directly involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, were released after 16 years, he questioned why these seven people, who had no direct involvement, cannot be released.

Mr. Hariparanthaman pointed out to the three-Judge Supreme Court bench’s ruling in 1999 that criticised the ruling of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) (TADA) Act that originally awarded capital punishment to 26 people in the case, a letter later written by one of the three Judges about certain flaws in the judgement and assertion by chief investigator of the case K. Ragothaman about loopholes in the investigation. “All these clearly indicate that the seven people have been done great injustice,” he said.

He also questioned the motive of the BJP-led government at the Centre that has opposed the release of the seven.

“When the BJP is opposing every move of the Congress, why are they towing the line of former Congress-led government in this,” he asked.

P. Rajeswari, mother of P. Ravichandran, one of the seven convicts, who spoke at the function, pleaded to the Governor to show mercy and immediately release her son and six others so that she could at least spend her last years with her son.

T. Lajapathi Roy, advocate, Madras High Court, argued that the original judgement by TADA court in the case itself was severely flawed as observed later by the Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court said that the case will not even fall under TADA Act but failed to send it back for re-investigation,” he pointed out.

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