Chennai: The Governor of Tamilnadu has the discretionary powers to release the seven persons associated with the killing of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Supreme Court said today.
The State government should recommend to the Governor to release the seven members who have served jail term for nearly three decades, the apex court said.
The convicts are V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, A G Perarivalan alias Arivu, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, P Ravichandran and Nalini.
The apex court had 18 February 2014 commuted the death sentence of the three convicts – Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan – citing inordinate delay by the executive in deciding their mercy plea.
In April 2000, the Tamilnadu Governor had commuted the death sentence of Nalini on the basis of the State government’s recommendation and an appeal by former Congress president and Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia Gandhi.
Last month, the Central government opposed the release of Rajiv Gandhi's killers in the Supreme Court. The government submitted an affidavit telling the court that the former prime minister's assassins cannot be released and that the President of India had already rejected a proposal to release the convicts.
The Centre's affidavit came in response to the Supreme Court asking the government to explain its stand on Tamilnadu's 2016 decision to release the seven convicts of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The Tamilnadu government's decision was challenged in the Supreme Court, following which the court sought the Centre's opinion.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May 1991, around seven years after his mother Indira Gandhi was gunned down by her bodyguards in New Delhi.