Centre against release of Rajiv killers

Rajiv Gandhi.

The Supreme Court on Friday took on record the Union government's disagreement with the Tamil Nadu government's move to release seven convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The Centre said remission of their sentence will set a "dangerous precedent" and have "international ramifications" as the case involves the assassination of a former prime minister in a brutal manner in pursuance of a "diabolical" plot carefully conceived and executed by a foreign terrorist organisation.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph took the document, filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, on record and deferred the matter.

On January 23, the apex court had asked the Centre to take a decision within three months on a 2016 letter by the Tamil Nadu government seeking its concurrence on releasing the seven convicts.

The letter, written on March 2, 2016, had said the state government has already decided to release the seven convicts, but it is necessary to seek the Centre's concurrence as per an apex court order of 2015.

"The central government, in pursuance of Ssection 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, does not concur to the proposal of the government of Tamil Nadu contained in its communication letter dated March 2, 2016 for grant of further remission of sentence to these seven convicts," said the reply filed by MHA Joint Secretary V B Dubey.

The trial court had given "cogent reasons" for imposing death penalty upon the accused and pointed out that even the Supreme Court had termed the assassination an "unparallel act" in the annals of crimes committed in this country.

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 others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.

In its response, the Union government said the assassination brought the democratic process in the country to a "grinding halt" as elections to the Lok Sabha and some state Assemblies had to be postponed.

Convicts V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santham, A G Perarivalan alias Arivu, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, P Ravichandaran and Nalini have been in jail for 25 years.

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Centre against release of Rajiv killers

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