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No power to alter President’s order on clemency: Jaya

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today 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.

The three, sentenced to death in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, are scheduled to be hanged on Sept 9.

The President had twice rejected their mercy petitions of the three who were awarded the capital punishment by a Special Court here, which was upheld by the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court.

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

A decision in this regard was taken on April 19, 2000 at a cabinet meeting chaired by Karunanidhi, she said.

It is wrong to say that the Chief Minister had powers to commute the death sentence and save the three lives, Jayalalithaa said and expressed surprise why some political leaders were making such remarks while “knowing well the legal issues involved”.

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

She rejected the contention of political leaders that Constitution gives powers to the State government under Article 161.

She 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.

“However, if there is a change of circumstances or if any new material is available, the condemned person himself or anyone on his behalf may make a fresh application to the President for reconsideration of the earlier order. Once the President has rejected a mercy petition, all future applications in this behalf should be addressed to and would be dealt with by the President,” she quoted the Home Ministry’s directive.

Almost all major political parties, barring the AIADMK and the Congress have appealed to the Chief Minister to intervene to save the life of the three.

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