– Submitted by Walter Jayawardhana –
Renewing his demand for abolishing death penalty, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi on Saturday made a fresh pitch for a state cabinet meeting to adopt a resolution recommending commutation of the death sentence awarded to three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
“Our stand is that capital punishment should be abolished and should be taken off the law book,” Mr. Karunanidhi said, recalling his remarks that the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan should be commuted on humanitarian grounds.
“If the state government has to approach the problem truly, it should not just stop after adopting resolutions in the Assembly, but pass a resolution in a cabinet meeting and send it to the Governor,” the DMK patriarch said.
His statement comes a day after the Supreme Court dismissed death row convict and Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s plea for commutation of his death sentence in a judgement that can have a bearing on the fate of over 20 convicts facing execution, including those held guilty in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.
On the apex court’s observation that commutation of death sentence to accused cannot be done in the case of terrorists or those involved in mass killings on the ground of delay in deciding their mercy plea, Mr. Karunanidhi said in a statement “it has come as a very big shock to many expecting the verdict as well as our thinking.”
Mr. Karunanidhi cited the example of Thyagu, whose death sentence, he said, was commuted during his government’s tenure. “When we see that Thyagu has now become a writer and essayist, is publishing books and has become a respectable man in society, we should give a life to Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan and should use them for society,” he said.
The DMK chief has been repeatedly pressing for abolition of capital punishment.
His earlier comments in this regard came against the backdrop of the hanging of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru which triggered a fresh debate on the death penalty issue.
He had also virtually backed the demand for a CBI probe into the 1993 Palar landmine blast case in which four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan are facing the gallows.
The four got a temporary relief in February this year with the apex court staying their execution on their plea seeking commutation of the sentence citing delay of eight years in disposal of their mercy petition by the President. (The Hindu)