Tamil Nadu government does not have power to release Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, rules Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Seven convicts undergoing life term imprisonment for assassinating former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are to remain in jail as the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the Tamil Nadu government cannot unilaterally remit their sentences.

A constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said that consent of central government is a must in cases probed by a central agency and Tamil Nadu must take consent of the Centre before remitting their jail term.

The apex court had earlier stayed the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to remit their sentences.

Challenging the government’s decision, the Centre had approached the top court saying that since the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was investigated and prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it was the central government alone that was competent to grant remission and release them.

Other judges on the constitution bench were Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

The Tamil Nadu government had remitted the sentences of V Sriharan alias Murugan, A G Perarivalan alias Arivu and T Suthendraraja alias Santhan. The others who were sought to be released included Jayakumar, Nalini and Ravichandran.

The apex court had, on February 20, 2014, stayed the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release the convicts.