The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed till March 6 the release of four convicts — Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran — in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

On February 20, the court stopped the release of the other convicts Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, two days after it had commuted their death sentence to life term.

Acting on a writ petition from the Centre, a Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana directed the Tamil Nadu government to maintain the status quo. The court issued notices to them, seeking their response.

“We are responsible for this problem. We will solve it within a week,” the CJI told senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu.

On February 19, the State government decided to release the seven convicts and conveyed the decision to the Centre.

When the matter was taken up on Thursday, Mr. Dwivedi and Additional Advocate-General Subramonium Prasad submitted that the Centre’s writ petition was not maintainable as no fundamental right was violated.

Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran, however, said the Centre was the appropriate authority to grant remission to the convicts in this case.

The Rajiv assassination case was investigated by the CBI and the offences involved fell under Central laws. Therefore, the State government was not “the appropriate government.”

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