A three-member bench said it found no merit in Centre’s review petition

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review its February 18 ruling in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, commuting the death sentence of three convicts — Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan — to life imprisonment.

“We have carefully gone through the review petition. We find no merit in the review petition and the same is dismissed,” a Bench of Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh said in a brief order.

Based on the apex court verdict commuting the death sentence, the Tamil Nadu government ordered the release of convicts Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayachandran and Ravichandran. The order was stayed by the apex court and the matter is still being heard.

In the review petition, the Centre contended that the court did not consider the merits of the case and that the court had ventured into the domain of the government by commuting the death sentence. It said the February 18 judgment was passed by a three-judge Bench instead of by a Bench of five judges as the case involved substantial interpretation of the law and provisions of the Constitution.

The Centre said, “The impugned judgment is patently illegal, suffers from errors and flies in the face of well-established principles of law laid down by this court and contained in the Constitution and other statutes.”

The Union government contended that the apex court had interfered with the President’s order, rejecting the plea for mercy.

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