Despite the decision of the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday to set free seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, their early release from prison seems highly unlikely.
Union home ministry (MHA) has made it clear that the state cannot commute sentence of seven convicts - Santhan, Murugan, his wife Nalini, Perarivalan, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran – without consulting it and having a separate order from the Centre in this regard.
“We have not received any correspondence from the state in this regard but section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is very clear that the any case investigated by a central agency under a central law, in this it was TADA, cannot go ahead for remission or commutation of sentence with consulting the centre. Besides the law says there was a need to a have separate commutation order from the centre as well,” said a senior MHA official on the condition of anonymity.
The official added that the ministry was not in a hurry to take a view in the case.
Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa said in Chennai that in compliance with the Sec 435 of CrPC, the state would send the cabinet decision to the Centre seeking its nod, but if there was no reply within three days, the state government will release all the seven convicts.
However, senior Supreme Court lawyer KTST ulsi said: “Section of 435 of the CrPC clearly says that in matters where the executive power of the union extends, there was a need for a separate order on commutation from the central government and it is further says that in absence of a central government order, no order from the state government shall have effect.
The word used here is ‘shall’ which makes it binding. Here is case investigated under a central act TADA by a central agency CBI, so that’s makes clear that in this matter the executive power of the union extends.”
The MHA is also sending a note to ministry of law and justice to make its position clear in the case.