August 30, 2011
In a written statement released today, the Sikh Students Federation has showed its’ grave concern over the proposed execution of three Tamils who are accused on former Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi’s murder in 1991. The students’ body has pleaded the cancellation of their death penalty as trio have already served more than 20 years in prison.
SSF has also expressed solidarity with the families of the convicts and extended their support to the student organizations and human rights activists organizing protests to seek clemency for Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.
“We have three points of concern in this regard; first, the execution would amount to “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” prohibited under Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as accused were put on death row for more than a decade. Secondly, the executions would break the de facto moratorium observed by the Indian state for past seven years as no execution is carried since 2004. Thirdly these executions are opposed to global trends of abolition of death penalty” said SSF national president, Parmjeet Singh Gazi.
Among three, Murugan and Santhan, both in their forties, are Sri Lankans whereas Arivu alias Perarivalan, 37, is a citizen of India. They were sentenced to death in January 1998 by a TADA designated court on grounds of involvement in assignation of Rajiv Gandhi along with 23 others. Later a three-judges bench of Supreme Court of India confirmed the death sentence of trio along with one Nalini, while acquitting 19 other convicts and further commuting the death sentences of three others. In April 2000, the Governor of Tamil Nadu commuted Nalini’s sentence to life imprisonment, but rejected the pleas of the three men. Then the petitions were filed before President of India in 2000, and President took eleven years to form a decision, which has caused inordinate delay in executions.
“Prolonged and inordinate delay in execution, per se, is a ground for cancellation of death sentence in India” Gazi informed.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu State assembly, today passed a resolution unanimously urging the President of India to review her decision rejecting review petitions by the accused.
Parmjeet Singh Gazi
Sikh Students Federation