03 March, 2021

Pardon, The Slip Shows

The clemency clause comes to the rescue of the Russian crew, but security experts are irked

Pardon, The Slip Shows

An influential section of the Indian legal community is sharply critical of the presidential pardon granted to the five Russian pilots sentenced to life for their role in the arms drop over Purulia. Many experts are even questioning the pardon on the grounds that it sends wrong signals to both the judiciary as well as security agencies.

The five - Latvians of Russian origin who later took Russian citizenship - and a British national, Peter Bleach, were arrested in December 1995 after iaf fighters forced down the Antonov 26 transport plane they were travelling in. A seventh passenger, Niels Christian Nielsen, better known by his alibi Kim Davy, vanished mysteriously from the airport in Bombay. In February this year, after four long years of depositions by CBI witnesses, the Calcutta High Court found the first six guilty of "crimes against the state" and sentenced them to life imprisonment. But on July 22, President K.R. Narayanan used his discretionary powers under Article 72 of the Constitution to remit the sentences and free the five Russian pilots. An mea...

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