DELHI:  20 Feb 2014

The Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI) while welcoming the Supreme Court verdict to commute the death sentence of the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to life imprisonment for inordinate delay in the decision on their mercy petitions, expressed dismay in the double standard adopted by the Judiciary. While it showed leniency towards the killers of former Prime Minister, sent Afzal Guru, Parliament attack convict, to the gallows against whom there were many things which were unexplained and there were not much evidence against him but just ‘to satisfy the collective conscience of the country’.

SDPI national president A. Sayeed in a statement said the latest judgement in favour of Rajiv killers to transform death sentence into life imprisonment apparently seems to be biased since it failed to give the benefit of doubt to Afzal Guru in the absence of concrete evidence against him. Many leading jurists and  luminaries together with several human right groups had then raised serious questions over the judgement awarding death sentence to Afzal Guru. Thus, hanging of Afzal Guru was absolutely not justified, he added.

Sayeed alleged that the “double standards of Indian judicial system” is a painful phenomena and often charges of lack of impartiality in the judiciary is becoming a reality . He said that if the two judgments are compared then an element of discrimination is quite visible which gives out the message that courts too deal with Kashmiri people and ordinary Indian Muslims on communal lines in the same way as governments ruled by Hindutva protagonists.

It may be recalled here that Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Sreeperumbathur on May 21, 1991. Fourteen other people also lost their lives in that blast. In 1999, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for being part of the group that conspired to kill Gandhi. Their mercy petition was sent to the President of India, the last stage in the process of appeals, in 2000 and was rejected 11 years later. Their hanging was stayed in 2011 on the orders of the Madras High Court.