The Union Home Ministry has sought details from the Tamil Nadu government to “facilitate further” the latter’s request to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The Ministry has sought details from the State government on eight grounds, including the “physical and mental status of the convicts” and their “economic and social background”.
The seven convicts are, A.G. Perarivalan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini.
On January 23, 2018, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court gave the Centre three months to decide on the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal in 2014 to remit the sentences of the seven life-term convicts.
The court put the case on hold till the Centre took a call.
On State’s powers
The February 19, 2014, proposal had spurred the Centre to move the Supreme Court and triggered questions on whether a State could unilaterally remit the life sentence in a case investigated by a Central agency like the CBI, as in this case.
On March 2, 2016, days before the State went to the polls, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K. Gnanadesikan sent another letter to the Union Home Ministry that it had received petitions from the convicts with requests to release them since they had spent more than 20 years in prison.
“The government (Tamil Nadu), after taking into consideration the petitions of the seven convicts, has decided to remit the sentences of life imprisonment as they have already served imprisonment for 24 years,” the Chief Secretary said in his letter.
On February 14, 2018, Joint Secretary (judicial), the MHA replied to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary.
The MHA letter said, “as per established procedure followed by MHA, relevant papers relating to the petitions are required to be placed on record and it is requested that documents be made available to this Ministry at the earliest for facilitation further processing.”
The details that have been sought from T.N government are, “previous crime records/ sentence undergone (if any), details in respect of all seven convicts mentioning the sentence awarded by the trial court, High court, Supreme Court under various provisions of Indian Penal Code and other Acts.”