New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Tamil Nadu government does not have the power to release the seven convicts who assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The Centre’s approval is mandatory for the Tamil Nadu government to remit the sentences of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, the top court ruled.
The court also said the Centre will have primacy in remitting the sentences of convicts in cases registered under central law and probed by central agencies like the CBI.
The Court, however, referred to a three-judge bench the factual and legal aspects of grant of remission to convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case.
The Tamil Nadu government had announced it will release the seven convicts and had asserted that the states have the power to remit sentences under the law. It had denied accusations that the decision to release the seven was “political and arbitrary”.
The apex court had on February 20 last year, stayed the state government’s decision to release three convicts – Murugan, Santhan and Arivu — whose death sentences had been commuted to life on the grounds of inordinate delays by the President in deciding their mercy petitions.
The top court had later also stayed the release of four other convicts — Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran — saying there were procedural lapses on the part of the state government.
Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in Central Prison, Vellore. The other four are undergoing life sentences for their role in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991, in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.