Chennai: After Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa expressed her inability to intervene in the execution of the three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, AIADMK ally DMDK on Monday said the Central government should reconsider their clemency petitions and cancel the death sentence awarded to them.

"The assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is a crime. Key convicts in this case have died already. Since, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan have already spent 20 years in jail, the Central government should reconsider their clemency petitions and save their lives," DMDK president Vijaykant said in a statement.

The three convicts -- Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan -- are set to be hanged on September 9 after the President twice rejected their clemency petitions.

He also said many countries had already abolished capital punishment and the same demand has risen among Indians. Hence the Central government should cancel the execution of the three convicts, he said.

DMDK is an ally of the ruling AIADMK government and is the opposition party in the State Assembly with 29 MLAs.

Meanwhile, PMK founder S Ramadoss criticised Jayalalithaa's statement in the Assembly saying, "if she had a will, the lives of three persons can be saved".

"While the whole state was waiting for the Chief Minister to save the three persons, Jayalalithaa has stepped aside from her responsibility saying she can't interevene in the President's decision," Ramadoss said in a statement.

Refusing to buy the Union Home Ministry's directive in 1991, which Jayalalithaa quoted in the Assembly, Ramadoss said the Constitution was "superior in authority" than that directive and explained that Article 161 did not take away the power from the Governor of a state to appeal for reconsideration, even after the President had rejected a clemency petition.

Jayalalithaa had said the Union Home Ministry had in 1991, made it clear that when a petition for grant of pardon in death sentences has earlier been rejected by the President, it would not be open for the State government to invoke Article 161 to commute the death sentence.

Giving instances in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in 1976 and 1957 respectively, where the death sentence of the convicts were intervened by the State government, he said the Chief Minister should take steps to save the lives of the three persons.

Lankan Tamil MP writes to Patil

A Sri Lankan lawmaker representing the main Tamil party TNA, has written to President Pratibha Patil pleading for clemency for Rajiv Gandhi's killers, who are to be hanged on September 9.

The mercy petitions of the three convicts, two of whom are Sri Lankan Tamils, which had been with the President for over 10 years, were rejected early this month.

The authorities have set September 9 as the date for the hanging of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, who have been convicted for the 1991 assassination of the former Prime Minister and the then Congress Party leader.

Murugan and Santhan are Sri Lankan Tamils. Senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Suresh Premachandran said that his colleague S Sreetharan has written to the Indian President seeking clemency for the three.

Premachandran, however, did not detail the contents of the letter. Sreetharan is currently overseas.

TNA was seen as the proxy-political party of the LTTE whose leader Velupillai Prabakaran was declared a wanted man by India for the killing.

India repeated their extradition request on Prabhakaran on an annual basis. Prabhakaran was killed in May 2009 during the last phase of the war against the LTTE.


No power to alter President's order: Jaya

In response to the demands for commuting the sentence of three Rajiv Gandhi assassins, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said she has no power to alter the Presidential order rejecting the clemency plea of the three Rajiv Gandhi assassins.

Making a suo moto statement in the Assembly, Jayalalithaa said, "I don't have any power to alter the Presidential order rejecting the mercy petitions of the three," -- Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan.

She appealed to political parties "not to send signals" that she had powers to overturn the Presidential orders and save the three from the gallows.

Charging the DMK president M Karunanidhi with adopting ‘double standards’ and enacting a "fake drama", Jayalalithaa said Karunanidhi, when he was the Chief Minister, had recommended to the Governor to reject the mercy petitions of the three and commute the death sentence of Nalini, to life.

Only the President and the Governors has the powers to commute death sentences, she noted.

No interference needed in decision: Swamy

Meanwhile, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said there should no interference in the decision to hang the three.

"No power under the Constitution can now stop the hanging of these three convicts whose mercy petitions have been rejected. Hence, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has correctly stated that she cannot interfere," he said in a statement in Delhi on Monday.

He said after 12 years of "inaction" by the Union Governments a decision has finally been taken by the government and "just in time in view of my threat to file a PIL in the Supreme Court after August 15, 2011 if no action was taken."

"There should be no further interference in the decision to hang these three convicts on September 9. India can no more be perceived as a soft state when it comes to terrorists," he said.

Swamy also said commuting of another convict Nalini Sriharan's death sentence "can be set aside" by courts.

Review petitions likely to be filed

A mention about an impending petition seeking review of the President's order rejecting the clemency pleas of three Rajiv Gandhi assassins was made in the Madras High Court on Monday.

Senior counsel V Chandrasekaran made the mention on the subject before Justice Paul Vasanthkumar, who told him to file the petition, which could be heard on Tuesday.

JPN/Agencies