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Supreme Court halts TN move to release Rajiv killers

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Thursday restrained the Tamil Nadu government from releasing the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, citing procedural lapses by the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam issued notices to the state government and all the convicts, directing the government to maintain the status quo. It asked the state government to file its reply within two weeks and posted the case for hearing for March 6.

The court said the appropriate government has power to remit sentence but it has to follow the laid down procedure.

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.

Earlier on Thursday, the Centre had moved the apex court seeking a stay on the state government’s decision to release all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The court had agreed to give the matter an urgent hearing and heard the case around 1pm.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran had told the bench headed by the Chief Justice 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.

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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