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Aug-16-2011 18:00printcomments

Three Men Face Imminent Execution in India

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International is asking people to involved themselves, and do what they can.

(CHENNAI, India) - Two Sri Lankans and an Indian national convicted for the assassination of India’s former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, are facing imminent execution in Vellore prison in Tamil Nadu, India. This follows the rejection of their mercy petitions by the President of India. If carried out, these would be the first executions in India since 2004.

Murugan and Santhan, both 41, and Arivu alias Perarivalan, 37, were sentenced to death in January 1998 by a Special Anti-Terrorist Court on grounds of involvement in the assassination of India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Their sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court of India in May 1999. According to information received by Amnesty International and reports in the Indian media, their mercy petitions were rejected by the President in August 2011, following the advice of the Government of India.

The three men were amongst 26 people sentenced to death by a special court at the Poonamallee jail complex in Tamil Nadu, under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA) – a law that contained provisions that were incompatible with international standards for fair trial. On appeal, a three-judge Supreme Court bench confirmed the death sentences of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and a woman, Nalini, while acquitting 19 persons of the murder charges and commuting the death sentences of three others. In April 2000, the Governor of Tamil Nadu commuted Nalini’s sentence to life imprisonment, but rejected the mercy petitions of the three men. A mercy petition for the three men was sent to the Government of India in April 2000 and eventually only decided upon at the beginning of August 2011.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The eleven-year delay in announcing the verdict of the mercy petition and the resultant stay on death row may further amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Supreme Court of India has itself commuted death sentences in a number of cases due to prolonged delay in deciding mercy petitions.

Additional Information

This is the third set of mercy petitions to be rejected since June 2011. No executions have taken place in India since 2004. The move to resume executions after a seven-year hiatus would put the country against the regional and global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

UN bodies and mechanisms have repeatedly called upon Member States to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, most recently through the adoption of a third UN General Assembly resolution on the matter in December 2010. In a general comment on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a State Party, the UN Human Rights Committee stated that Article 6 "refers generally to abolition [of the death penalty] in terms which strongly suggest... that abolition is desirable. The Committee concludes that all measures of abolition should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life... ".

Other national and regional bodies have also recognized that prolonged detention on death row can amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This is in addition to international law and standards which make clear that prisoners under sentence of death have the right throughout the process to make maximum use of the judicial and clemency processes available, including by petitioning international bodies.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method of execution.


Recommended action

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

  • Urge that the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan be commuted;
  • Acknowledge the seriousness of the crime, i.e. assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, but raise concern that their stay on death row, since the mercy petition was kept pending for eleven years, may further amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment;
  • Reiterate the call of the UN General Assembly to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, and pointing out that India’s decision to resume executions after a seven-year gap goes against regional and global trends towards abolition of the death penalty.




Appeals to

Prime Minister of India,
Dr. Manmohan Singh,
South Block,
Raisina Hill,
New Delhi 110 001,
Fax: +91 11 23019545  //  … 23016857
Email (via form):
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

President of India,
President Pratibha Patil,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi 110 004,
Fax: +91 11 23017290  //  ... 23017824,
Email (via form):
Salutation: Dear President

Copies to

Minister of Home Affairs,
P Chidambaram,
104, North Block,
Central Secretariat,
New Delhi 110001,
Fax: + 91 11 23094221

Ambassade de la République de l'Inde,
Kirchenfeldstrasse 28,
Case postale 406,
3000 Berne 6.
Fax: 031 351 15 57

Plea to cancel the death sentence wrongly given to innocent Tamils (Rajiv Ghandy Assassination)

Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil [President of India]

Sri M.Hamid Ansari [Vice-President of India]
His Excellency Mr. Manmohan Singh [Prime Minister of India]
Shri L.K. Advani [Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha]
Mr. P.CHIDAMBARAM [Home Minister of India]

Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia [Supreme Court of India]
Smt.Sonia Gandhi [President, Indian National Congress]
Smt.Meira Kumar [Hon’ble Lok Sabha Speaker]
His Excellency Thiru Surjit Singh Barnala [Governor of Tamil Nadu]
Dr. J. Jayalalitha [Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu]
Hon. Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan [National Human Rights Commission of India]
Send Email to International Community against Death Penalty
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty
Council of Europe Theme File on Death Penalty
Amnesty International Website Against the Death Penalty
Amnesty International-USA’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty
Death Penalty Information Center (USA)
European Day against the death penalty (Council of Europe)

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Stop the Death Penalty in India August 22, 2011 9:45 pm (Pacific time)

sign 'stop death penalty in India' at

Thamizhanban.J August 23, 2011 11:27 am (Pacific time)

Engineer Puducherry India

Anonymous August 17, 2011 2:25 pm (Pacific time)

I'd rather support Israel any time.

Editor: This story is about India, and if you support Israel then you support the murder of little children, apartheid and Genocide.

Anonymous August 16, 2011 8:47 pm (Pacific time)

Way to go. I believe in the Death Penalty. We should have it more than we do. Crime rate will go down for sure if they know that there will be a severe punishment. But hey, we love our criminals, pay millions of dollars every year to feed them, give them great medical care and even let them sue the State if they don't like their breakfast.

Editor: You're right, $4 million a day of hard earned American taxpayer funds are handed to Israel, it truly is a shame and a sham.    

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