Friday, February 6, 2015

Tamil Nadu can remit Rajiv Gandhi killers' sentence only after Centre's nod

Monday, 17 November 2014 - 7:45am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Prabhati Nayak Mishra 

Supporting the Centre, which had approached the supreme court against the Tamil Nadu government's move to release seven convicts after granting them remission in former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case, the Madhya Pradesh government told the apex court that the state government needs to consult the Centre when granting remission to convicts in cases probed by CBI. However, the state made its stand clear that consultation does not mean 'concurrence.'

Filing an affidavit, MP government told the top court that the Parliament has made it very clear that "the state government should seek mere opinion or advice of the Centre, if the offence has been investigated by the Delhi special police establishment or by any other agency empowered to make an investigation into an offence under any Central Act…" The CBI was created by the Centre under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. 

It also said: "The offence involves misappropriation or destruction of or damage to any property belonging to the Central government or was committed by a person in the service of the Central government while acting or purporting to act while discharging of his official duty."

In February, this year, the then Jayalaithaa government in Tamil Nadu had decided to grant remission to all seven convicts, including three, whose death penalty was commuted by the supreme court on grounds of delay in execution, and had given three days time to the Centre to respond to the state's decision.

Tamil Nadu's move followed the supreme court's February 18 verdict commuting the death sentences of AG Perarivalan alias Arivu, Sriharan alias Murugan and T Suthentiraraja alias Santhan on grounds of delay in execution. Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan were awarded the death penalty in 2001 over the killing of former PM Rajiv Gandhi, who was died in a suicide bombing on May 21, 1991, at a political rally in Tamil Nadu.

Four others were given life terms in the same case. They are Sriharan's wife Nalini, B Robert Payas, S Jayakumar and P Ravichandran. Tamil Nadu claims that the state has the power to grant remission under the CrPc provision. The Centre, which was then led by the UPA government, challenged the state government's order. Keeping aside political differences, the NDA government also on Sunday maintained the UPA regime's stand in court. Tamil Nadu says that the state has powers to release the convicts. The Centre demurred, arguing that the convicts could not be released without its nod as the CBI had probed the case.

Case complications

In its referral order in April, the bench framed the issues which are whetherlife term, when commuted from death penalty, meant imprisonment for the rest of life, which could not be remitted by the appropriate government after the convicts spend a minimum 14 years in jail. The question is also that if the president grants or rejects the commutation of death penalty, could the states remit the life sentences after the prescribed minimum period. Also, there is a complication in deciding Which government, the state or Centre, has the power to remit sentences of convicts in the Rajiv assassination case.

Source: [last accessed 06.02.2015]

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