NEW DELHI, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) — The Indian government Tuesday opposed in Supreme Court a plea to commute the death sentences of three convicts, involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, to life in prison.
India’s Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the apex court, hearing the mercy pleas, that there has been a delay in deciding their clemency petitions by the Indian president but that is not ” inordinate” in their case.
“There was a delay by the government in deciding the mercy plea, but it is not unexplainable or inordinate delay. The President’s Office can not be blamed for this,” the attorney general told the court, following which the judges reserved their order.
In fact, the Supreme Court has been hearing the mercy pleas filed by the three convicts who are seeking commutation of their death sentences to life imprisonment, citing delay of over 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions by the president.
The convicts recently approached the court in the wake of its order that inordinate delay in deciding mercy pleas and mental illness could be grounds to commute death penalties, and it also gave relief to 15 convicts on death row.
Rajiv Gandhi, who became the youngest Indian prime minister after his mother and the country’s first woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards, was killed by a suicide bomber of the former Tamil Tigers while he was at a political rally in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in 1991.