The bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh rejected the Centre's plea after considering it in their chamber.

The bench in its February 18 order commuted the death sentence of three conspirators to life imprisonment in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, citing its January 21 judgement.

The three convicts are V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivalan alias Arivu and T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, currently lodged in Tamil Nadu's Vellore prison.

They had sought commutation of their death sentences due to the long delay in deciding their mercy petitions.

The Apex Court in its January 21 judgement held that inordinate, unexplained and unreasonable delay in deciding the mercy petition of the death row convicts was a ground for commutation of death to life imprisonment.

Rajiv Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister (1984-89), was killed by Dhanu, a Sri Lankan suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai on May 21, 1991.

In 1998, all the 26 accused in the case were sentenced to death by a special trial court.

In 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of four - Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini - while the capital punishment to the others was reduced to varying terms of imprisonment.


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