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SC rejects plea opposing release of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi who heard the petitions, ruled out their prayers saying that the SC had already heard them.

india Updated: May 09, 2019 17:21 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Supreme Court,Ranjan Gogoi,CJI
Earlier, the TN assembly had passed a resolution seeking the release of the seven convicts. However the convicts’ petition for release is with the Governor.(HT PHOTO)

Providing relief to convicts involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Supreme Court on Thursday set aside petitions filed by families of those who were killed along with the former PM, seeking direction against the Tamil Nadu government’s initiatives to release them.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi who heard the petitions, ruled out their prayers saying that the SC had already heard them.

“The court has already passed directions to state and central governments. Tamil Nadu Governor has to decide on this subject,” the SC said in its direction.

TN Congress leaders Americai Narayanan and Rama Suganthan, the petitioners had urged the apex court to halt the TN government’s initiatives to release the seven convicts Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Rober Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.

Earlier, the TN assembly had passed a resolution seeking the release of the seven convicts. However the convicts’ petition for release is with the Governor.

Reacting to the judgment, Americai Narayanan said the direction of the apex court was painful.

“As an Indian citizen, I respect the SC’s direction. However, I am unhappy with it. Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit should not order the release of these seven convicts as it would set a wrong example,” Narayanan said.

Arputham Ammal, mother of Perarivalan - one of the convicts welcomed the SC’s order saying that it has given her hope about a possible release for her son.

“My son has spent nearly 28 years in prison. Even as the TN Legislative Assembly and TN Cabinet have passed resolutions, the Governor has not taken a decision yet. Since the SC has clarified that the ball is in the Governor’s court, he should decide immediately,” Arputham Ammal urged.

Tamil Nadu Deputy CM and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) coordinator O Panneerselvam said that the TN government will take all possible steps to release the seven convicts associated with the former PM’s assassination case.

“Our late leader J Jayalalithaa had passed a resolution in the TNLA urging the Centre to release all the seven convicts in 2014. Our current government’s cabinet has also passed a resolution with the same plea and it was sent to the TN Governor. We will urge the Governor to release the seven convicts,” O Panneerselvam told the media at Madurai.

While the ruling AIADMK and opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) are in favour of releasing the seven convicts, both the national parties BJP and Congress are against it.

Speaking about the contradictory stances of party leaders, KS Alagiri, President, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee said, “Our leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have already said that they have forgiven the suicide bomber and the men behind the attack. It is their personal opinion. However, going by the law is our party’s official stance. Our alliance partners may have their own views on this. No one can pressurize the governor to release the seven people.”

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Tamil Mani observed that both the national parties were unlikely to support the release of all the seven convicts.

“Without the Central Government’s consent, the TN Governor will not release the seven convicts. If the Tamil Nadu government wants to release them, it should bring an amendment in the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure’s Section 433. To release the convicts who have completed two-life terms in Tamil Nadu prisons under TN’s jurisdiction, the government should bring in an amendment to 433AA,” Mani opined.

First Published: May 09, 2019 17:21 IST