SC stays release of Rajiv Gandhi's killers after Centre opposes Jayalalithaa's decision
The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a decision by the Tamil Nadu government to release all seven convicts in the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Acting on a petition filed by the Centre, the apex court issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government restraining it from releasing the convicts and directed it to maintain status quo till further orders.
Earlier the Centre had moved to the apex court challenging the decision of the Tamil Nadu Government.
The government has contended that the Tamil Nadu government cannot release the convicts since their case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is a central agency, and hence the state has to consult the centre.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tamil Nadu government's decision to release seven people convicted of killing former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was legally untenable and contrary to all principles of justice.
"The Government is moving a review petition in the Supreme Court on fundamental issues of law arising from the assassination of the late Rajiv Gandhi. We have also informed the Tamil Nadu Government that their proposed course of action to release the killers of Rajiv Gandhi is not legally tenable and should not be proceeded with," a statement from the PMO said.
"The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was an attack on the soul of India. The release of the killers of a former Prime Minister of India and our great leader, as well as several other innocent Indians, would be contrary to all principles of justice. No government or party should be soft in the fight against terrorism," it added.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday said that the state cabinet will apply powers applicable to it under the Constitution to release the three convicted assassinators of Rajiv Gandhi -- Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan -- if the Central Government failed to act on the same within the next three days.
Making a suo moto statement in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, Jayalalithaa had said a decision to this effect would be conveyed to the Central Government as per Indian Constitution and as per Section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code or Cr.PC.
She also said that the other convicts who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, namely, Nalini, Jayakumar, Robert Paes and Ravichandran, would also be released.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of three men to life in prison.
Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan had petitioned the apex court against their death sentence, arguing that there had been an exceptional delay in a decision on their mercy pleas.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Sriperumbedur on May 21, 1991. Fourteen other people also lost their lives in that blast.
(Posted on 20-02-2014)