NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred to July 21 the hearing on the issue of power of remission by the Centre and States to release convicts. The issue arose after Tamil Nadu government decided to remit sentences and set free seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
When a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, began the hearing on Wednesday, the Centre submitted that the issue would require extensive hearing for three to four days.
To this, the bench informed Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, that it was sitting for only a day in the present combination and adjourned the hearing to July 21.
On that day, the bench would also examine whether State governments have the power of remission in a prosecution launched by central agencies like the CBI.
Appearing for V Sriharan alias Murugan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv case, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani opposed the Centre’s submission saying the matter did not require that much time.
In his written submission, Jethmalani said citizens could file writ petitions for enforcement of their fundamental rights and the “Union of India is not a citizen but State under Article 12; it has no such rights vested in it”.
“The present petition is not maintainable for the additional reason that it seeks to challenge the correctness of a final judgement of this court through a writ petition under Article 32,” Jethmalani contended.
“It is well settled in law that a judgement of this court cannot be challenged by way of a petition under Article 32. The only remedy is by way of a Review or Curative petition,” he said adding, “the stay obtained in respect of remissions all over the country (not confined to the present convicts) continues unlawfully even today.”
Subsequently, the court stayed the release of four other convicts in the case, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar, and Ravichandran, saying there were procedural lapses on part of the State government.