Remission to Rajiv Case Convicts by TN Selective, says Centre
The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to grant remission of sentence to the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was selective and violated Article 14 of the Constitution.
The Centre told the Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam that “the decision of the State of Tamil Nadu to grant remission selectively is, apart from being excess of jurisdiction, also violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.”
Terming it a derogation of the rights of the family and victims, the Centre said the Tamil Nadu government’s act was unauthorised, hasty and malafide. The Tamil Nadu government said it had sought the views of the Centre on its decision to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and that the proposal could not be challenged before the court.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the State, told the apex court: “You can’t challenge a letter expressing a view.”
The State, in its response to the Centre’s February 20 plea to the Supreme Court challenging Tamil Nadu’s decision, reiterated its power to grant remission to the seven convicts and said the Centre had no fundamental right to challenge its decision.
The apex court on February 27 stayed the release of four convicts and said it would lay down the procedure for States to follow for granting remission to prisoners undergoing life term on commutation of their death sentences.
The release of the other three key conspirators was earlier suspended by the apex court on February 20. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till March 26 as Additional Solicitor General Siddarth Luthra, appearing for the Centre, sought time to revert to Tamil Nadu’s response.
On February 19, a day after the death sentence of V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A G Perarivalan alias Arivu was commuted, Tamil Nadu communicated to the Centre its proposal to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv assassination case.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed in an attack by a suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from Sri Lanka on May 21, 1991, in Sriperumbudur near Chennai.