New Delhi: The Congress Wednesday expressed pain and disappointment over the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A G Perarivalan, and slammed the government for creating "a situation" in the court that the killer of a former prime minister is released for "petty and cheap politics".
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said today there is a sorrow and fury not only in every Congress worker over the development, but in every citizen who believes in India and Indianness.
"A terrorist is a terrorist and should be treated as one. Today, we are deeply pained and disappointed at the decision of the Supreme Court ordering the release of Rajiv Gandhi's assassin," he said.
It is condemnable and very unfortunate that the assassin of a former prime minister has been released, he said.
"Today is a sad day for the country. There is a sorrow and fury not only in every Congress worker, but in every Indian who believes in India and Indianness, who believes in fighting against extremism and every force that challenges the sovereignty and integrity of India," he told reporters.
He also wondered if the lakhs of convicts facing life terms should be freed.
This is not a question about Rajiv Gandhi, but about a prime minister who was killed, he said, adding the soul of every person fighting against terrorism has been hurt.
"Rajiv ji had sacrificed his life for the country, not for the Congress. And if today's government creates a situation in the court to get his killers released for their petty and cheap politics, then it is very unfortunate and it is condemnable.
"We condemn this in the strongest possible way. All Indians must see what kind of governments are in power today and what is their attitude towards extremism is," he said.
Invoking its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court Wednesday ordered the release of A G Perarivalan, who has served over 30 years in jail in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said the Tamil Nadu state cabinet's advice recommending the premature release of all seven convicts in the case was binding on the governor.
The apex court also discarded the Centre's argument that the president exclusively has the power to grant pardon in a case under section 302 the Indian Penal Code, saying this would render article 161 (power of governor to grant pardon) functionless.
The bench, also comprising Justice B R Gavai, held that states have the power to advise and aid the governor in case of pleas of pardon under article 161 made by convicts in murder cases.
Article 142 of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court's power to exercise its jurisdiction and pass order for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it. The article was also used in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.
The Centre had earlier defended the Tamil Nadu governor's decision to send the mercy plea of Perarivalan to the president.