CHENNAI: MDMK founder Vaiko on Sunday appealed to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on the occasion of the birth centenary of former Chief Minister, late MG Ramachandran, citing precedents in the past.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, Vaiko also sought release of convicts who had completed ten years of jail term.
Besides recalling past precedents where prisoners had been released on occasions including India's independence, birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi in 1969 and efforts by Ramachandran himself as Chief Minister, Vaiko also referred to a Tamil film where the former matinee idol strives to reform some prison inmates.
"In this background, I request that on the occasion of the birth centenary of MGR (as he is addressed), who was an epitome of humanity, the seven persons in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who have spent 25 years in jail should be released," he said.
Such a decision should be taken on "humanitarian" grounds, he said in the letter which was released by MDMK headquarters.
Tamil Nadu government should use the "authority" provided to the state government under Article 161 of the Constitution of India for this purpose, he added.
Article 161 deals with the "Power of Governor to grant pardons etc and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases."
Vaiko, who noted that death penalty has been abolished in 137 countries, added that many of them have accepted that prisons are not meant to punish but reform.
Therefore to rehabilitate those who have undergone ten years of prison term, such persons should also be freed on the occasion, he said.
Vaiko recalled that Ramachandran had played the lead role in the Tamil film "Pallandu Vazhga" where he sets out to reform some tough prisoners.