A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will soon decide whether the seven life-term convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case deserve to be released after spending 23 years behind bars.
The case is among 12 that will come up for hearing before three-judge Benches of the Supreme Court.
A notice issued by the Supreme Court on April 18 listed the cases for hearing on Mondays and Fridays.
The development comes just four months after a Constitution Bench led by the then Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu interpreted the law to hold that States cannot unilaterally remit the sentences of life convicts in a case investigated by the CBI without permission from the Centre. Interpreting Section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code dealing with remissions of life convicts, the majority judgment of the Constitution Bench said the word “consultation” in the provision actually meant “concurrence.” The Bench had ruled that consultation with the Centre in cases of heinous crimes should not be an empty formality as national interest was at stake.
The verdict, authored by Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, was passed on a petition filed by the Centre against a February 19, 2014 letter from the Tamil Nadu government proposing to remit the life sentences of the seven convicts. In his 200-page majority judgment, Justice Kalifulla made scathing references to the Rajiv Gandhi killers, but stopped short of commenting on the merits of the Tamil Nadu government’s request for remission. Instead, the Bench referred that issue to a three-judge Bench.