SC reserves order on remission to Rajiv Gandhi assassins

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved its order on the question whether after the commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment, could the conspirators in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case be granted further remission and be released by the Tamil Nadu government.

A constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H.L.Dattu reserved the order as Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar reiterated the position that since the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was investigated and prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it was the central government alone was competent to grant remission and release them.

Other judges on the constitution bench were Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

The constitution bench reserved the order on the conclusion of the hearing on the seven questions referred to it by the three judge bench focused on whether after the commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment, could the Tamil Nadu government further grant remission of sentence.

One of the seven questions framed by the bench of the then Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N.V.Ramana in their April 25, 2014 judgment was whether after commutation of the death sentence into life imprisonment either by the president, governor or the court, can the government go further granting them remission and releasing them.

The question was rooted in the conflicting positions taken by the central and the Tamil Nadu governments on whether after the commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment, could these convicts or similarly-placed convicts be granted remission and consequent release.

The three judges bench by its April 25, 2014, order had said that constitution bench would decide “whether once power of remission under Article 72 or 161 or by this court exercising the constitutional power under article 32A is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the executive”.

The constitution bench was further asked to examine whether there could be a special category wherein after death penalty has been commuted to life imprisonment, such a convict is put beyond the applicability of remission of sentence and he would remain behind the bar in excess of life term of 14 years.

The issued is rooted in the Tamil Nadu government’s moved to release V.Sriharan alias Murugan, A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu and T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan.

The others who were sought to be released included Jayakumar, Nalini and Ravichandran.

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