PIL in HC seeks to restrain Centre from ‘secret executions’

Gopu Mohan Posted: Feb 13, 2013 at 0131 hrs
Chennai Concerned over the “secret execution” of Afzal Guru, a fate that could befall the three persons awarded capital punishment for their involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination, a petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking to restrain the Centre from carrying out any more executions without first publicly disclosing the rejection of mercy petition.

The petitioner, advocate P Pugalenthi, director of Prisoners’ Rights Forum and an activist against death sentence, argued that Afzal Guru was executed in a hurried manner under the cloak of secrecy within five days of the petition being rejected. There was an inordinate delay of seven years in the execution of the death sentence, as the mercy petition was pending. The Supreme Court has held such long delay to be ground for seeking commutation of the death sentence, he said in his petition.

Stating his apprehension that the nearly 20 convicts, whose mercy petitions are pending before the President, could also be sent to the gallows in a secret and hurried manner, Pugalenthi said it would be against democratic principles and in violation of Constitutional rights.

S Nalini, AG Perarivalan, Sriharan, and Santhan, were awarded capital punishment for their role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court.

While Nalini’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, mercy petitions filed by others were pending before the President for over a decade before it was rejected mid last year. They were to be executed on September 9, 2012, but a division bench of the court granted an interim stay on the executions.