"Today's Supreme Court ruling to commute death sentences of three death row prisoners, Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan, is a very encouraging decision especially in light of the landmark ruling in January 2014 to commute 15 death sentences in India," said Amnesty International India in a press release.

"Today's decision to spare the lives of these three prisoners is a welcome judgment that shows the judiciary's willingness to uphold standards it set down for the treatment of prisoners on death row,” the release added.

It is said that Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan have spent more than  15 years in prison since they were sentenced to death in January 1998 by a special court set up under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA).

They were charged with involvement in the killing of Rajiv Gandhi and 15 others in May 1991.

"The positive rulings of commutations of January 2014 and those of on Tuesday, offer context and impetus for India to move towards a direction of a society that can be free of the death penalty," said Divya Iyer, Senior researcher at Amnesty International India.

"India must now do away with the death penalty - a cruel, inconsistent and irreversible form of punishment that has no proven deterrent effect on crime," she added.


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