SC stays release of four Rajiv assassins

SC stays release of four Rajiv assassins

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed Tamil Nadu government’s order to free four more convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, days after restraining the release of three prime convicts whose death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam ordered status quo on the fate of four prisoners till March 6. Jayalalitha government had on February 19 decided to let go seven convicts.

The court had on February 20 stayed the release of three prime convicts Murugan, Santhan and Arivu after noting certain procedural lapse on the part of state government. The apex court had on February 18 commuted the death sentence awarded to the three to life term on the ground of inordinate delay in deciding their mercy petition.

Taking up a petition filed by the Centre against order to release the seven prisoners, the court issued notice to the state government and the convicts, who are undergoing life term.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu government opposed the Centre’s plea saying that the Union government had no locus standi and could not file a writ petition.

He also questioned the swiftness shown by the Centre in approaching the apex court without bothering to respond to the state government’s letter seeking the stand of the Union government on the release of the prisoners.

The bench, also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh, questioned the state government’s keenness asking, “Is the Centre rushing or you are rushing?” The court also said that it would decide the maintainability of the issue first, before going into the merit of the petition. While assuring that it would solve the problem amicably, the bench said that every state must be aware of the procedure to be followed for the release of prisoners.

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