Criticizing the SC order, Abhishek Singhvi said it sends an unwanted message to the world and strikes at the root of our sovereignty.
“The decision of Supreme Court to release killers of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is very disheartening,â Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Rajya Sabha member and senior politician, said at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters. While some political leaders welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) order leaving the other assassination convicts free, many others â mainly Congress and the BJP â strongly criticized the release.
On May 17, 2022, AG Perarivalan, one of the other convicts in the case, was released. The same relief was granted to the other six convicts on November 11, in reference to the exit from perarivalan..All of the convicts were initially sentenced to capital punishment, and in subsequent years the death penalty was reduced to life imprisonment.
Singhvi condemned the release of the six convicts by the SC today pointing out that the assassination of the former Prime Minister was in cold blood and by deliberate design and therefore the release of the convicts in such a case is shocking as it strikes at the root of our integrity as a nation.
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Criticizing the SC order, Singhvi said it was sending the wrong message to the world. He stressed that the fact that we extend to these killers the benefits of our judicial breadth, forgetting the nature of their crime is shocking.
While pointing to some of the previous judgments related to similar convict release scenarios, he said there was no general guarantee that convicts would be released simply because they had served a certain period of prison. “There is no absolute right to release and each case depends on the context, facts and individual merits,” he said, referring specifically to the SC observation in the State of Gujarat c. Narayan.
Singhvi reiterated that the Union government does not agree with this decision. Despite this, the SC gave decisive weight to the opinion of the State of Tamil Nadu, in favor of the release of the convicts. He pointed out that this is legally wrong and listed seven reasons why Congress believes the SC order releasing convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is wrong.
1. Why did the SC give leeway to convicts in such a heinous crime?
Emphasizing the word “convicted”, Singhvi expressed concern over the release of those found guilty of planning and executing the murder of a former prime minister. This is a crime of a very high degree and there seems to be no reason, in his view, to have them released.
2. How will the SC now deny similar requests for release by convicts in other murder cases?
It will be a complicated legal hassle for courts to now deny similar requests for release from convicts in conspiracy and murder cases.
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3. Is preferential treatment allowed?
Singhvi also said that while good conduct, deteriorating health and acceptable behavior are valid grounds for the release of convicts, courts should also release those who have been in prison longer than said convicts. The release of these convicts alone is partisan, and not something Singhvi cites as reasonable or fair.
4. Can India’s sovereignty and integrity be disputed?
An attack on the Prime Minister is an attack on the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Singhvi stressed that such a serious issue does not need to be debated and that it is shocking to see those convicted of such a crime against the state on the loose.
5. Can CS take sides?
The SC states in its reasoning that although the union government is opposed to the release of the convicts, the Tamil Nadu government has supported the petitioners’ request for release. This was given more weight by the court. Singhvi points out that the SC must not have given the state of Tamil Nadu priority over the Centre’s opinion on the matter. The Centre’s clear and categorical disagreement should have been taken into account by the court, according to Singhvi.
6. Would State recommendations now be binding?
Singhvi also says that in the context of the current SC order releasing convicts on the recommendation of the state government of Tamil Nadu, all recommendations from the states would now be legally binding on the court. This creates a complex legal issue of procedure and fairness.
7. Can special powers of the court be invoked in this way?
Singhvi also mentioned that Section 142 is only invoked when SC wants to exercise special powers. This is an unsubstantiated invocation of the SC’s special power as it is a case involving those convicted of the assassination of a former Prime Minister, a crime that strikes at the very root of Indian sovereignty .
Singhvi concluded by emphasizing that Congress will use available legal remedies, be it review by a higher instance of the court or anything else mandated by law, to secure the release of those convicted in the assassination. by Rajiv Gandhi.