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Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: Supreme Court dismisses pleas opposing Tamil Nadu govt's move to release all seven convicts

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed petitions of families of those killed along with former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 suicide bomber attack, objecting to the Tamil Nadu government's 2014 decision to release the seven convicts in the case. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, "All aspects were covered in the earlier constitution bench verdict in the case and therefore nothing survives in the case".

 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: Supreme Court dismisses pleas opposing Tamil Nadu govts move to release all seven convicts

File image of the Supreme Court of India. AP

In 2014, the then J Jayalalithaa-led government in Tamil Nadu had decided to release seven convicts in the case.

The families had filed a plea seeking directions not to proceed with the government's decision for the premature release of the convicts but since the Constitution Bench had already decided on the issue, the plea was disposed of. "We don't find any merit in your petition," the CJI said dismissing it.

Rajiv was assassinated by a suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on 21 May, 1991.

In September 2018, Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit had forwarded to the Union home ministry a recommendation of the state government to release the seven convicts sentenced to life imprisonment.

The AIADMK government on 9 September, 2018 recommended to the governor to release the convicts, a move hailed by most political parties in the state. Earlier on 10 August, 2018, the Centre had opposed in Supreme Court the proposal of the government to release the convicts, saying that setting them free would set a very wrong precedent.

The MDMA, set up in 1998 on the recommendations of Justice MC Jain Commission of Inquiry, had probed the conspiracy aspect of Rajiv's assassination and was headed by a CBI official and comprises officers from IB, RAW and Revenue Intelligence and other agencies.

On 21 May, 2018, the MDMA had informed a bench headed by Gogoi that the probe into the case was "still open" and letters rogatory have been issued to different countries, including Sri Lanka, where some persons required to be investigated were currently residing, another official.

In its May 1999 order, the top court had upheld the death sentence of four convicts — AG Perarivalan, Murugan, Santham and Nalini —  in the assassination case. In April 2000, the Tamil Nadu governor had commuted the death sentence of Nalini on the basis of the state government's recommendation and an appeal by Sonia Gandhi.

Whereas, on 18 February, 2014, the top court commuted the death sentence of Perarivalan to life imprisonment, along with that of two other prisoners — Santhan and Murugan — on grounds of a delay of 11 years in deciding their mercy pleas by the Centre.

 With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 09, 2019 13:03:28 IST