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Tamilnadu has been raising its powerful voice demanding the release of the Tamil 7, or the seven Tamils, namely Perarivalan, Santhan, Murugan, Nalini, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Jeyakumar, undergoing life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case. A favourable order has also been obtained from the Supreme Court in this respect. The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on 6th September 2018 in its judgement, said, the Governor could well take a decision in accordance with Article 161 of the Constitution of India. The power of the Governor as per Article 161 is essentially nothing but that of the State Government. It is well established that the Governor can only abide by the State Government’s decision and pass necessary orders. The Supreme Court has made this very clear on multiple occasions, including in the 1980 Maruram case.

PerarivalanBased on the Supreme Court’s judgement, the State Cabinet of the Tamilnadu Government passed a resolution on 9th September 2018 and forwarded it to the Governor for his approval. The Governor is required as per well-established law and convention to approve the resolution and order the release of the seven convicts. It is his legal duty and constitutional obligation. He is not supposed to sit over it for too long and cause an inordinate and unexplained delay. When the Supreme Court was again approached by the anti-release applicants, Justice Ranjan Gagoi, on 9th May 2019 refused to admit the application, saying, “Nothing survives in this case” and confirmed the original judgement. In spite of all this, the Governor would not move. When a grapevine spilled in the media that the Governor had sought advice from the Home Ministry of the Union Government, his office denied it. So, if he is only consulting legal experts, he should make it public what the subject of the consultation was, and how long it was likely to take.

The Governor is making a mockery of the rule of law by dishonouring the resolution of the state’s council of ministers to release the 7 convicts, which is based on the Supreme Court’s judgement. These convicts have already undergone imprisonment for more than 28 years. The Governor should come down from the ivory tower of the Raj Bhavan to answer the questions of the people of Tamilnadu. Let him candidly explain why it takes so long to approve the resolution. If he disapproves the same, let him explain why. It is a shame upon democracy to contend that it is the sovereign right of the Governor to procrastinate. Even a monarch from the aristocratic past would not make such a claim. The Supreme Court has made it amply clear that the President under Article 72 or the Governor under Article 161 can’t postpone making any decision beyond a reasonable period. The doctrine ‘delayed justice is denied justice’ is applicable to His Excellency the Governor as well. Inordinate and inexplicable delay is a violation of the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court, while commuting the capital punishment upon three convicts in this case, categorically asserted that inordinate and inexplicable delay is unconstitutional. So it is for the courts to put their foot down and hold the Governor accountable for unconstitutional procrastination that amounts to a silent murder of justice and to effectively intervene to give relief to the affected, But it is disgusting to see the courts turning their face away citing the stature of the high office of the Governor as the reason. Nothing is higher in stature compared to human rights. People in positions of higher stature should not indulge in third-rate tactics.

In brief, the governor should not have taken more than a few days or weeks to decide upon the resolution passed by the Tamilnadu Cabinet on 9th September 2018. These long days beyond the reasonable time allowed for consideration the 7 convicts have in effect been in illegal custody. They, inside the prison, and we, outside, have waited for too long. We can’t wait any more. This is both an appeal and a warning by the people of Tamilnadu. The state Government despite knowing very well the Governor is playing a foul game is staying silent and trying to give an impression that they have done everything in their capacity.

What to do next? Talking about legality to this Governor is akin to sermonising the Holy Testament to the Satan. Except the BJP and the Congress, none of the political parties has objected to the release of the Tamil 7. These two reactionary parties are opposing, so to say, just for the heck of it. There is no reasonable ground for their objection. They state the deceased victim is former Prime Minister. So be it! This is an eternal fact! Even after 50 or 100 years, he would still be a former Prime Minister and these 7 people would never ever be eligible to think of freedom. In that case, we would need a separate Indian Penal Code to convict and sentence people accused of killing personalities who hold or have ever held high offices. A separate Criminal Procedure Code, too!

They say releasing these 7 convicts would have international repercussions. When 19 of the 26 originally convicted by the Designated TADA court were exonerated earlier by the Supreme Court in the same case, it did not cause any such repercussion! Not a ripple! Both the Congress and the BJP governments made the same untenable arguments in the Supreme Court. The Manmohan Singh Government filed a revision petition against the commutation of the death penalty in the Supreme Court, in vain. Later the Narendra Modi Government filed a curative petition on the same lines, again in vain. If the Governor is keeping the files in the haystack and sleeping over it he should at least be honest to openly and officially state his position. As per law, the Governor has no other option but sign on the Tamilnadu Government’s resolution to release the 7 Tamils. If Banwarilal Purohit’s conscience doesn’t allow him to sign, let him resign from his position. Let us declare in solidarity with the people of Tamilnadu who love freedom: May the Purohit obstructer who stands in the way of the wonderful sight of the freedom of our beloved Tamil 7 move away. Sign or resign!

***

Written by Thiagu

Translated by Ramu. Palaniappan

(This article was originally published in a Tamil Magazine 'Urimai Tamil Desam', Jan 2020 issue)

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+1 #1 S. Sankarapandi 2020-08-07 22:03
The extraordinary and inexplicable delay is totally unconstitutiona l and it is cruel that the prisoners are being punished purely due to political bias.
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+1 #2 Niruja AJM 2020-08-07 22:04
Freedom for 7
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+1 #3 Gibson 2020-08-09 16:31
Up hold democrasy.
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