New Delhi: After staying release of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Supreme Court today restrained the Tamil Nadu government from letting out four more convicts in the case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam directed the state government to maintain status quo and said it will hear on March 6 the Centre’s plea against the state government’s decision to release all seven prisoners undergoing life imprisonment.
Opposing the Centre’s plea, the Tamil Nadu government said the petition is not maintainable as the Union government cannot file a writ in the case.
The state also submitted that the Centre has no locus in the matter.
It asked as to why the Centre rushed to the apex court instead of replying to the state government’s letter seeking the stand of the Union government on the release of the prisoners.
“Is the Centre rushing or you are rushing?,” the bench questioned the state government and made it clear that it will first consider the maintainability of the Centre’s petition before going into its merits.
“You take it from us that we would consider the maintainability issue first,” it said, adding, “We would solve the problem amicably.”
The bench said that every state must be aware about the procedure to be followed for the release of prisoners.
The apex court had on February 20 stayed the release of three convicts–Murugan, Santhan and Arivu– whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it on February 18 in the case, saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the state government on the decision to release them.
Thereafter, the Centre had moved the plea seeking a stay on the release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.
The Jayalalithaa government had on February 19 decided to set free all the seven convicts in the assassination case.
Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore and they are in jail since 1991.
The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.
The bench had on February 20 issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government, Inspector General of Prisons, Chennai, Superintendent of Central Prison, Vellore and the convicts –V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A G Perarivalan alias Arivu–for March 6.