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Rajiv killers: SC refers case to Constitution bench

Posted on Apr 25 2014 | IBNS

New Delhi, Apr 25 : The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the verdict on the Centre's plea against the Tamil Nadu Government's decision to release all seven convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case.

The apex court referred the case to a larger Constitution Bench.

On Apr 2, the Centre had filed a petition challenging the state government's authority in the case.

On Apr 1, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition by the Centre to review its February verdict commuting the death sentence of three killers of Rajiv Gandhi to life.

A bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam dismissed the review petition with the apex court saying the three men would not be hanged.

The apex court had commuted the death sentence in February owing to a long delay (about 11 years) in deciding their mercy petitions.

Rajiv Gandhi, the sixth Prime Minister of India, was killed at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on 21 May 1991. At least 14 others were also killed in the blasts by a suicide bomber - Dhanu- sent by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was a terror outfit fighting for a free land for the ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The three convicts, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, had sought the commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding their mercy plea.

The bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam had pronounced the verdict and granted them mercy in Feb.

Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan are in prison for over two decades.

Murugan's wife Nalini Sriharan's death sentence had been commuted earlier on the intervention of Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The Centre had opposed commuting their death sentence to life imprisonment.

Congres vice-president Rahul Gandhi, son of Rajiv Gandhi, earlier had reacted strongly against the J Jayalalithaa led Tamil Nadu government's decision to release seven convicts in connection with the killing of Rajiv Gandhi and said even a prime minister could not get justice in the country.

Gandhi's assassination was carried out by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, also known as Dhanu, who was found after investigations to be a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomber.

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