Prannoy Roy

Prannoy Roy wrote a post :

Prannoy Roy

Do you think freeing Nalini is compassionate or is it a bad precedent to free a terrorist?"

Dr Roy: Let's go a little beyond technical and legal aspect. From a compassion point of view we saw Priyanka Gandhi saying she should be set free. Do you feel it's being a little soft on the assassin of a former Prime Minister? Is it a soft state?

Mani Shankar Aiyer: About 4 centuries ago Shakespeare through the mouth of Portia told us in the Merchant Of Venice 'that the quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven '.

So I think there is a role for mercy and compassion even in the strict application of the rule of law and whether it is the assassination of a former Prime Minister or the assassination of a janitor the rule of law remains exactly the same. So I do want to go, as you put it, beyond technicalities. I think it is technicalities and including the technicalities relating to the quality of mercy that should determine the outcome in this particular case. I certainly hope there is no precedent in the sense that I pray that no other Prime Minister of India will ever again be killed.

Dr. Roy: Naturally Naturally we all obviously pray for that.. Doraiswamy have you taken the cue form the Gandhis on this. You are fighting this case.. Is there any signal that you got from the Gandhis that you should fight this

Doraiswamy:. No No Nobody has given any instructions.or anybody wanted me to appear for the case. My clients approached me, I appeared for them.

Dr. Roy: But do you feel you are creating history and a precedent that maybe not the next Prime Minsiter but that the state can be soft on an assasin. Do you worry that sometimes you are creating a precedent that an assassin of a senior politician a Prime Minister, that the state can be soft on that person and release that person rather than give them the death sentence.

Doraiswamy: So far as the offence committed by this Nalini is concerned, she did not commit any murder. She just accompanied, the person who committed the offence without knowing what for she is going to the place. she went there so you have to take the ground level of what has actually happened. She did not go there to commit any offence.

Dr. Roy: But, Sir, she has already been charged with being part of the conspiracy . So now you are changing the case really. I think that there is no longer in doubt that she was a part of the conspiracy. The issues that we are asking you is, are you setting a precedent. should you, should you be fighting a case which sets a prececdent. in India.

Doraiswamy: No its not a precedent..;already there is a precedent, Mahatma Gandhi's case, what has happened.. The murderers were given mercy. They have been given premature release after 16 years. Godse's brother was sentenced to life. Then he approached the court.. The court said it is for the government to consider on the basis of the present rules and acts. Considering the present rules, they were given premature release. Only on the basis of that precedent, Nalini's asking for an advisory board and on the advisory board's recommendation she is seeking.

Dr. Roy; Right, Mani Shankar Aiyer, one last question ,if I could ask you, everybody wants to be compassionate, you've talked about Shakespeare. But in this age of terrorism what kind of signal does it give to other terrorists.

Mani Shankar Aiyer: I dont think contemporary terrorism should be retro-actively applicable to a crime that was committed as a terrorist act but before terroism became the big national issue that it has now become. I still suggest, Prannoy, that the best and the most reasonable course to take is to follow the law of the land and if the law of the land permits a certain element of discretion on the part of the state government then I think the state government which is probably the only authority with all the information in its hand, could take the right kind of decision.. Whether Nalini's freed or whether she is not. I would hope that the law be strictly followed, then there will be no wrong precedent..

Dr. Roy: But may I say, Mani, that the law will follow your heart and your heart has compassion here.

Mani Shankar Aiyer: My heart says that whether Nalini's freed or not freed, my friend Rajiv Gandhi is not going to come back to us. She has been punished according to the law and if the law provides for an element of compassion after so many years in prison then so be it. I dont think that we should be conflating the problems thatarise out of organised terrorism with this particualar case.

Dr Roy: It must be difficult for you to say that but thank you very much for joining us, Mani Shankar Aiyer and Mr. Doraiswamy, thank you very much indeed. 10 years ago

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