Few can understand the relevance of the January 21 Supreme Court (SC) verdict on death row convicts better than Arulselvi. The 40-year-old assistant professor at Tamil Nadu’s Annamalai University is the younger sister of Arivu, who, with two others, faces capital punishment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The SC verdict will have a direct bearing on Arivu’s case as the group has been seeking to commute the death penalty served to them because of a delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions.
Hailed as a landmark judgement in capital punishment jurisprudence, the SC commuted the death sentences of 15 convicts on the grounds of delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions by the President, and set out guidelines to protect the rights of condemned prisoners.
The SC verdict will also impact the case of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, convicted in a 1993 bomb blast case in Delhi, in which nine people were killed. “The verdict has given us a ray of hope. I am sure that while hearing the writ petition for my brother, the SC will consider the January 21 verdict,” said Arulselvi.
The pendency or the time lapse between the SC pronouncing capital punishment and the President deciding on the mercy petition has been 13 years in the case of Arivu, Murugan and Santhan. It has been 10 years in Bhullar’s case.