Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC seeks Centre's stand on Tamil Nadu govt's proposal to release seven convicts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to take a call on the Tamil Nadu government's 2014 communication proposing to grant remission of sentence to seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination conspiracy case.

 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC seeks Centres stand on Tamil Nadu govts proposal to release seven convicts

File image of Supreme Court. Reuters

"You take a decision. That itself will decide the matter," said Justice Ranjan Gogoi heading the three-judge bench hearing a 2014 plea by the Centre challenging the Tamil Nadu government's 19 February, 2014 decision to remit the sentences of the seven.

The bench, also comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Navin Sinha, gave the Centre three months' time to decide on it.

A day after the top court commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment of three key conspirators — V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivlan alias Arivu and T Suthendraraja alias Santhan — the Tamil Nadu government (on February 19) sent a proposal to the Centre to release all the convicts including four others.

On 20 February, the Centre moved the top court seeking a stay of the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release the seven convicts.

The Centre had contended that since Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and the conspiracy dimension was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, it alone had the power to grant remission of sentence.

The entire controversy whether "consultation" with the Centre (by the state government in grant of remission of sentence) meant "concurrence" and other questions were referred to a constitution bench.

Another question that was referred to the five-judge constitution bench included "whether once power of remission under Article 72 or 161 or by this court exercising the Constitutional power under Article 32A is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the executive".

The constitution bench by its 2 Decembe, 2015 verdict held that "consultation" with the Centre meant "concurrence" for the grant of remission of sentence of the convicts in the cases investigated by the CBI.

While the constitution bench had decided the question of law, the court on Tuesday noted that the Centre has not yet responded to the February 19 proposal of the Tamil Nadu government and asked it to respond.

Besides Sriharan Perarivlan and Suthendraraja, the other four accused who would have walked free following the Tamil Nadu government's decision included Nalini, Robert Pius, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, serving life terms.

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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2018 22:34:46 IST