Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi on Friday described as a "big relief" the Supreme Court’s decision to commute to life imprisonment the death sentence awarded to murder convict M N Das and asked central and state governments to take steps for the release of the three death row convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Detailing the chronology behind Das' case, Karunanidhi said the apex court had on May 1 commuted the death sentence to life term on the ground that the President had taken eleven years to decide his mercy plea.
"This verdict gives us big relief. We have been making a similar request. There have been many instances of a delay in deciding on the mercy pleas (of convicts) for many years," he said responding to a set of questions in party mouthpiece Murasoli.
Based on Das' case, in order to show mercy to the three convicts Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan who had spent many years in prison, the Centre and state government should take steps for their release, Karunanidhi said.
Das, while out on bail in another case, had beheaded one Harakanta Das at Fancy Bazaar in Assam and surrendered with the victim's head on April 24, 1996.
In 1997, the sessions court there had sentenced him to death.
His conviction and sentence were subsequently upheld by the Gauhati high court in 1998 and the Supreme Court in 1999.
In 1999, he has moved a mercy plea, which remained pending for eleven years before the President and was rejected in 2011.