A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing cases related to the validity of the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case pursuant to remission granted by the Tamil Nadu government.
Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar informed the Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices J.S. Kherhar, J. Chelameswar, A.K. Sikri and Rohinton Nariman about the seven issues referred to it by a three-judge Bench for adjudication.
He said apart from these issues, an important question was whether a convict or his or her family should be heard by the State government before deciding to commute death or life sentence.
Following a Supreme Court verdict on February 18 commuting the death sentence of Sriharan, alias Murugan, T. Suthendraraja, alias Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan, alias Arivu, the Tamil Nadu government ordered their release, as also of Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran. On a petition from the Centre, the court stayed the release and on April 25, referred the case to the Constitution Bench.
Mr. Kumar submitted that to a notice issued to all States in connection with the case, reply had come from only five. The Chief Justice said the court would, however, proceed to hear the matter.
Arguments will continue on Thursday.