T.N. decision also suffers from excess of jurisdiction, says Centre

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to grant remission selectively to seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

In its writ petition challenging the State’s February 19 decision, the Centre said the decision also suffered from “excess of jurisdiction.”

A Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana will next hear the petition on March 26.

Acting on the writ petition and earlier on an application, the court had stayed the release of the seven convicts.

At the resumed hearing, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi and Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the Centre had no locus standi to file the petition.

Mr. Rohatgi said the Tamil Nadu government’s letter to the Centre was “only a proposal and part of the consultation process, and it could raise objections to the proposal.”

However, Additional Solicitor-General Siddharth Luthra said the Centre would file a rejoinder to the State’s reply as substantial questions of law had been raised.

The Centre said: “18 innocent lives were lost, and over 200 persons were injured as a result of the human bomb [that killed the former Prime Minister]. The remission by the State is in derogation and breach of Article 21: the right of the family and victims, which the Union of India is bound to protect.”

Senior counsel K.M. Vijayan, appearing for a set of petitioners and others S. Abbas, John Joseph, Americai V. Narayanan, R. Mala, M. Samuvel Diraviyam and K. Ramasugandam, challenged the power of the State to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remission.

The court, however, said it would hear the writ petition after disposing of the Centre’s petition.

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