Tamil Nadu seeks Centre’s views on releasing Rajiv killers

Chennai, March 2 (IANS) Deciding to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday asked the central government’s view on the issue.

In a letter to union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Tamil Nadu chief secretary K. Gnanadesikan said the state government has received petitions from the seven convicts requesting their release as they have spent over 24 years in jail.

The seven convicts are V.Sriharan alais Murugan, T.Suthendraraja alais Santhan, A.G. Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini Sriharan, wife of Sriharan alias Murugan.

Gnanadesikan said the death sentence imposed on Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan was commuted to life sentence on the orders of Supreme Court.

All seven have been in prison since 1991, the year a woman Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew up former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai.

Gnanadesikan said the state government had proposed to remit the life sentence and release all the seven convicts and had written to the central government to indicate its views on February 19, 2014.

However, the central government approached the apex court against Tamil Nadu’s decision.

Gnanadesikan said a three-member bench of the Supreme Court framed seven constitutional/legal questions for consideration of a five-judge bench.

According to Tamil Nadu’s chief secretary, the apex court five-member bench answered the questions and the writ petition filed by the central government was directed to be posted to the three-member bench.

Gnanadesikan said the case is yet to be listed before the three-member bench.

He said in view of the circumstances it has become necessary to request the central government to communicate its views on the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release all the seven convicts.

Gnanadesikan also said his letter was sent to the central government without prejudice to the Tamil Nadu government’s right to move the Supreme Court to review its judgment dated December 2, 2015, where it had held the term `consultation’ under Section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code means `concurrence’ of the central government.

The Supreme Court on December 2, 2015, ruled that the Tamil Nadu government could grant remission and release the convicts only in consultation with the central government in cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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