Twenty-three years after they were jailed, the Tamil Nadu Government on Wednesday decided to set free within three days all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case after the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of three assassins.
Besides Santhan, Murugan, the husband of Nalini, Perarivalan, who earned a major reprieve from Supreme Court which spared them from gallows, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran would walkout from prison
Making an announcement in the state Assembly, Jayalalithaa said the state would send the Cabinet decision to the Centre seeking its nod as required under Section Cr.Pc section 435 as the case was filed by CBI in the case.
"If there is no reply within three days from the Centre, the state government will release all the seven under Cr.Pc section 432 in accordance with the powers vested with the state government", she declared.
With this decision, the seven serving life term could be free from jail in three days time.
Opposition Hails, Congress Fumes
While members from the opposition parties thanked the Chief Minister for her gesture in deciding to release all the convicts, Congress's J D Prince stood up and made certain remarks, which the Speaker V Dhanpal expunged.
John Jacob and N R Rangarajan (both Congress) were heard saying some thing, but the Chair refused permission stating that any statement made under Rule 110 of the House did not entail members to seek clarifications.
The three Congress members later trooped out of the House.
Majority of political parties in the state had demanded immediate release of convicts in the backdrop of Supreme Court observation that the state can consider their release.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of three convicts in the case to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding their mercy plea by the Centre.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam had 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.
The bench, also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and S K Singh, said it was unable to accept the Centre's view and commuted the death sentence of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to imprisonment for life subject to remission by the government.
Gandhi was killed in May 1991. His assassins were convicted by a TADA court in January 1998 and were awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the apex court on May 11, 1999.
Read the special coverage here- Justice Delayed But Not Denied