Stalin asks President to release 7 convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case
Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin on Thursday asked President Ram Nath Kovind to remit the life sentence of seven convicts sentenced in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assasination case and to direct their immediate release.
“The majority of the political parties in Tamil Nadu have been requesting for the remission of the remainder of their sentence and for immediate release of all the seven convicts as they have been incarcerated for about three decades. It is also the will of the people of Tamil Nadu,” Stalin said in his letter.
The seven convicts are Nalini Sriharan, Murugan, Santhan, AG Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, and P Ravichandran who are in Tamil Nadu prisons.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed in 1991 and his assassins sentenced to death by a TADA court in January 1998. The Supreme Court later upheld the death sentence for only four: Nalini Sriharan, Murugan, Santhan, AG Perarivalan. But the death sentence was later commuted to a life term.
In his letter to the President, Stalin recalled that Nalini Sriharan’s death sentence was commuted to life under Article 161 of the Indian Constitution that gives Raj Bhavan to pardon a convict, and the Supreme Court also commuted the death sentence of other three convicts to a life term.
In 2018, the Tamil Nadu cabinet passed a unanimous resolution for the release of the seven convicts and it was sent to Governor Banwarilal Purohit for his assent.
In February this year, Purohit, who had refrained from taking a call, finally said that the President was the competent authority to decide on the resolution.
“These seven persons have already suffered untold hardship and agony in the past three decades and have paid a heavy price. There has already been an inordinate delay in the consideration of their pleas for remission. In the present circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, courts are also recognising the need to decongest prisons,” he said.
On Wednesday, Stalin had granted a month’s ordinary leave for Perarivalan on medical grounds after considering an appeal from his mother Arputham Ammal that since Covid-19 is spreading in prisons, he was at a higher risk due to his health condition.