The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi cannot be released by the Tamil Nadu government without the Centre’s consent.
The apex court said the killers of the former prime minister will stay in the jails of Tamil Nadu, thus overruling the state government’s decision to release the convicts.
The apex court stressed that the Centre would have the final say in remission of sentence in cases investigated by a central agency.
States cannot exercise statutory power to remit sentences of convicts, tried under central laws and probed by central agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation without consulting the Union government, the Supreme Court held on Wednesday.
Settling the constitutional issues that had arisen out of the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set free the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the apex court said that though the states have power to grant remission, they cannot exercise it suo motu.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu stayed the state government’s decision to set free seven convicts -- Murugan, Santhan and Arivu and Nalini, Robert Pius, Jayakumar, and Ravichandran --in connection with this case.
The apex court had on February 20, last year stayed the state government’s decision to release three convicts -- Murugan, Santhan and Arivu, whose death sentence had been commuted to life term by it.
It had later also stayed the release of four other convicts -- Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, saying there were procedural lapses on part of the state government.
Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in Central Prison, Vellore. The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.
-- With inputs from PTI