Let Us Weigh Centre's Plea on Rajiv Convicts: SC - The New Indian Express

Let Us Weigh Centre's Plea on Rajiv Convicts: SC

Published: 28th February 2014 07:58 AM

Last Updated: 28th February 2014 07:59 AM

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the release of four convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and restrained the Tamil Nadu Government from letting them out.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam directed the State government to maintain status quo and said it would hear on March 6 the Centre’s plea against the State Government’s decision to release all seven prisoners undergoing life imprisonment.

Opposing the Centre’s plea, the Tamil Nadu government said the petition was not maintainable as the Union government cannot file a writ in the case. The State also submitted that the Centre has no locus in the matter.  “Our intention is not to stop their release. We want to lay down the principles that all States should follow,” the Bench said.

The State asked why the Centre rushed to the apex court instead of replying to the State government’s letter seeking its stand on the release of the prisoners.

“Is the Centre rushing or are you rushing?” the Bench asked the State. It made it clear that it would first consider the maintainability of the Centre’s petition before going into its merits.

“You take it from us that we would consider the maintainability issue first,” it said, adding, “We would solve the problem amicably. Our anxiety is not that the State is going to release them or not, but every State must be aware of the rule and procedure. We will lay down the proper procedure,” the bench said.

“We are responsible for this (decision commuting death sentence to life  imprisonment). We will solve the problem in a week’s time,” Chief Justice Sathasivam said adding that first an application had to be made by a prisoner seeking remission and then it would go to an appropriate court before a decision is made by the government.

The apex court had on February 20 stayed the release of three convicts — Murugan, Santhan and Arivu — whose death sentence was commuted to life by it on February 18, saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the State government on the decision to release them.

Thereafter, the Centre had moved the plea seeking a stay on the release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.


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