Seeking a stay on Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release all seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Centre today moved the Supreme Court which agreed to give an urgent hearing and decided to take up the case later in the day.
Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran pleaded for a stay saying the state government should not be allowed to release the prisoners till the apex court decided its review petition challenging commutation of death sentence of three condemned prisoners to life imprisonment on ground of delay in deciding mercy petitions.
The bench, after a brief hearing, agreed to hear the case at length and posted it at 12.40 PM.
The Jayalalithaa government had yesterday decided to set free all seven convicts in the assassination case after the apex court had commuted the death penalty of three of them to life imprisonment.
Besides Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, who earned a major reprieve on February 18 from the apex court which spared them from gallows, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran are the other four convicts whose release was decided by the Tamil Nadu government.
Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore, in Tamil Nadu and they are in incarceration since 1991.
Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, are undergoing life sentence for their role in the assassination of Gandhi on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.
The Tamil Nadu government has set a three-day deadline for itself and also to the Centre over the release of the seven convicts.
The Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan (both Sri Lankan Tamils) and A G Perarivalan on the ground of 11 years delay in deciding their mercy pleas by the Centre.
It had also rejected the Centre’s submission that there was no unreasonable delay in deciding their mercy plea and the condemned prisoners did not go through agonising experience as they were enjoying life behind the bars.
Gandhi’s assassins were convicted by a TADA court in January 1998 and were awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the apex court May 11, 1999.