Rajiv Gandhi assassination: SC gives Centre 3 months to decide on release of convicts

A three-judge bench led by justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing a plea by the convicts, in jail for almost 27 years, that said the Tamil Nadu government had decided to release them but was waiting for the Centre’s nod.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2018 21:53 IST
HT  Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajiv Gandhi assassination case,Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts,Tamil Nadu govt
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber.(From Archives)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Centre three months to decide on a Tamil Nadu government’s letter seeking the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

A three-judge bench led by justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing a plea by the convicts, in jail for almost 27 years, that said the state government had decided to release them but was waiting for the Centre’s nod, as required by a court order.

The letter was written on March 2, 2016, seeking the Centre’s nod for the state’s two-year-old decision to release the convicts.

Tamil Nadu government’s lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi backed the convicts, saying the Centre should respond to the letter.

The Centre – the Congress-led UPA was in power then – had moved the Supreme Court after the Tamil Nadu government sent the letter on February 18, 2014. It told the court that the Union government and not the state should decide on remission.

In December 2015, the court held the Centre had “primacy” over state’s right to grant relief and its “concurrence” was necessary before freeing convicts in certain cases.

But, it did not decide on the validity of the order of the Tamil Nadu government, which again wrote to the Centre in 2016 for its nod.

If the Centre would decide on the letter, the court would not have to get into the legality of the order, the bench said on Tuesday.

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at an election rally. Fourteen more people, including Dhanu, were also killed in the suicide attack.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 21:53 IST