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Centre moves SC for staying TN’s decision to release Rajiv Gandhi killers

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI): The Union government moved the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking a stay on the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The court agreed to give the matter an urgent hearing and was scheduled to take up the case later in the day.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam that the state government should not be allowed to release the prisoners till the apex court decided its review petition challenging commutation of death sentence of three condemned prisoners to life imprisonment.

The Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan (both Sri Lankan Tamils) and A G Perarivalan because it felt the Centre should not have taken 11 years to decide their mercy pleas.

The bench, after a brief hearing, agreed to hear the case at length and posted it at 12.40pm.

On Wednesday, the Jayalalithaa government had decided to set free all seven convicts in the assassination case after the apex court had commuted the death penalty of three of them to life imprisonment.

Besides Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, who earned a major reprieve on February 18 from the apex court, which spared them from gallows, the state also decided to release Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.

Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore, in Tamil Nadu and they have been in jail since 1991.

Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, are undergoing life sentence for their role in the assassination of Gandhi on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.

The Tamil Nadu government has set a three-day deadline for itself and also to the Centre over the release of the seven convicts.

It had also rejected the Centre's submission that there was no unreasonable delay in deciding their mercy plea and the condemned prisoners did not go through agonising experience as they were enjoying life behind the bars.

Rajiv Gandhi's assassins were convicted by a TADA court in January 1998 and were awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the apex court on May 11, 1999.


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