The Centre rejected the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case for a second time on Wednesday.
The Tamil Nadu government had first written a letter to the centre in February 2014, during the UPA government’s tenure, seeking remittance of the sentence.
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) response in the matter was that since the matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court, it has no authority to release the prisoners.
The letter was sent to the ministry by chief secretary K Gnanadesikan on March 2, two days before the model code of conduct came into effect in Tamil Nadu, which goes to the polls on May 16.
Last year, the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution seeking the release of the convicts after the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of three of the convicted to life terms, citing inordinate delay in deciding mercy pleas.
The former prime minister was killed while campaigning in an election in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur city in 1991 by a suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant political group in Sri Lanka banned in India. The attack was in revenge for Gandhi’s decision to dispatch Indian troops to aid Sri Lanka in its fight against the separatist militant group demanding secession. The Sri Lankan government finally won the bloody civil war that lasted for almost three decades in 2009.
A total of 26 people were found guilty of conspiring to kill Gandhi, but 19 of them were later acquitted amid a wave of sympathy for the killers, who were seen to have been fighting for the Tamil cause in the island nation.