P. Chidambaram on SC decision on commuting death sentence

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 20 2014, 03:00am hrs
P. Chidambaram said he cannot say he is unhappy at the commutation of the death sentence of three Rajiv Gandhi's killers but still there was irreparable grief over the brutal killing of the former PM.

"That grief will always remain. The Supreme Court has not declared them innocent. That's the main point. If they walk free they will walk free 20-22 years. So that's it. If that is the punishment the court felt they should suffer so be it. I do not have to say that I am happy or unhappy," he said.

P. Chidambaram said as a legal proposition there is an issue with the reasoning of the Supreme Court that mere delay is enough to commute the death sentence.

He questioned the delay saying the mercy petition reached the Government in 2000 when NDA was in office. They did not deal with it for nearly four years. It was first taken up only in 2005 and was sent to the President, where it lay for five years.

"After I became the Home Minister all the pending mercy petitions were returned and I had to deal with them one by one. Therefore to say that mere delay means that the sentence can be commuted to life raises a serious question of law. I think we have to examine the correctness of that proposition.

"I am uncomfortable with the proposition that the mere delay alone is the reason. In a way it's the delay, which has given them a lease of life. If there had been no delay, the whole question would not arise," he said.

P. Chidambaram said the reasoning on which the judgement stands will be debated.