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Jayalalithaa okays release of Rajiv killers

Last updated on: February 19, 2014 15:03 IST

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 on Tuesday which spared them from gallows, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran would walkout from prison.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who took the decision for early release of the Rajiv killers at an emergency Cabinet meeting convened this morning over the issue, made a suo motu announcement in the state assembly.

The announcement, which brought cheers on the faces of convicts, their families, was hailed by opposition parties, barring Congress.

Jayalalithaa said in compliance with the Sec 435 of Cr. Pc., the state would send the cabinet decision to the Centre seeking its nod for the release as the CBI filed the case against the convicts.

"If there is no reply within three days from the Centre, the state government will release all the seven under CrPc section 432 in accordance with the powers vested with it", she declared.


Jayalalithaa okays release of Rajiv killers

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 Cong) 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.

Arputhammal, the mother of Perarivalan, who had relentlessly campaigned for about 23 years seeking her son's release, had exuded confidence of the state freeing her son from the prison.

Jayalalithaa told the assembly that soon after the Supreme Court judgement, she held a discussion with legal experts on the issue on Tuesday.

She said she summoned the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at which the decision to release all the seven were taken. 


Jayalalithaa okays release of Rajiv killers

"Considering that they have spent over 23 years in prison, the Cabinet decided to immediately release Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan under the powers vested with the state government under Section 432 of CrPC. Likewise, it was also decided to release life convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, who too have spent 23 years in prison," Jayalalithaa said.

However, since the case was filed by the CBI before the TADA court, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet's decision has to be referred to the Central government under Section 435 of CrPC.

"Hence, the Cabinet's decision to release Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran would be sent to the Central government immediately," the Chief Minister said.

"If the Central government did not respond to the Cabinet reference within three days, then the state government invoking powers vested with it under Section 432 of CrPC, will release Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran," Jayalalithaa said.

Ridiculing the DMK's demand to the state government to release the Rajiv killers, Jayalalithaa blamed the previous Karunanidhi regime in 2000 for rejection of mercy petitions of convicts by the Governor and also by the President.

"Had the then government considered the plea of the convicts for clemency and recommended it to the Governor, it could have taken a Cabinet decision on it. But, such a thing did not happen."

Jayalalithaa also recalled the state assembly resolution in 2011 seeking the President to commute the death penalty awarded to Rajiv assassins to life sentence.

"Though the DMK was part of the UPA alliance for one and a half years since the resolution was passed, Karunanidhi did not pursue the issue with the Centre," she charged. 

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