Chennai: Former Supreme Court judge Justice (retired) K. T. Thomas, who had awarded the death penalty to Rajiv Gandhi's assassins in 1999, on Sunday said it will be unconstitutional to hang them now after they had spent such a long period of time in prison.
Urging President Pranab Mukherjee to review their mercy petitions, Thomas said: " Since the three convicts (Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan) have already spent 22 years in prison, hanging them now would amount to punishing them twice for the same crime.
The President should reconsider this (mercy petition), because as of now, the three have undergone a punishment more than the term of life imprisonment."
He also stated that the judgment itself had errors, as it did not consider the antecedents nature and character of the accused.
A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice D. P. Wadwah, Justice S. S. M. Quadri and presided over by Justice Thomas had awarded death punishment to Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan's wife Nalini in 1999 for killing the former Prime Minister.
Nalini's death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment in April 2000.