New Delhi, Apr 25 UNI | 3 months ago

The Supreme Court today referred to a five judge constitution bench the issue of whether state or central government is competent to grant clemency or remission of sentence in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana directed the registry to place all the petitions of the seven convicts and the Centre before the new chief justice for constituting a constitutional bench.

The Centre had challenged a decision of Tamil Nadu government to release all the seven convicts in the case after the apex court commuted the death sentence of three of them on the grounds of inordinate delay in disposal of their mercy petition by the President.

Today's ruling has dashed the hopes of killers of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, of imminent release.

All the seven convicts will have to remain in jail till the judgement of the five judge constitution bench is delivered which is likely to take a long time.

The apex court had on January 18 this year commuted the death sentence of 16 convicts on the grounds of inexplicable inordinate delay in the disposal of their clemency petition.

The top court had ruled that inordinate delay in the disposal of mercy petition is ground for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated along with 14 security personnel by LTTE militant on May 21, 1991 in Tamil Nadu.

(Posted on 25-04-2014)