Centre opposes release of 6 Rajiv case convict

Highlighting the alleged procedural lapse, the Centre said the order granting remission was passed without affording it adequate opportunity for hearing despite it being a necessary party to the case.
Convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case
Convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case

NEW DELHI: The Union government moved on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its order releasing six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, citing alleged procedural lapses, crucial and important evidence, and international ramification of releasing foreign terrorists.

Highlighting the alleged procedural lapse, the Centre said the order granting remission was passed without affording it adequate opportunity for hearing despite it being a necessary party to the case.

The convicts did not formally implead it as a party which resulted in its non-participation in the case, thus preventing the court from “appreciating the crucial and important evidence in the matter, which if presented, would have assisted this court to arrive at a just and correct judgment”, the Centre said in the review petition. The Centre said certain facts were in its possession but could not be placed before the court to enable it to arrive at a correct judgment and to do complete justice in the “peculiar and shocking” facts and circumstances.

“Granting remission to terrorist of foreign nation, who had been duly convicted in accordance with the law of land for gruesome offence of assassinating the former prime minister, is a matter which has international ramification and therefore falls squarely within the sovereign powers of the Union of India,” it said. Considering the sensitivity of the case, the assistance of Centre was of paramount importance, as the matter has huge repercussions on the public order, peace, tranquility, and criminal justice system of the country, it added.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier favoured the premature release of Nalini and Ravichandran, saying its 2018 advice for remission of their life sentence was binding upon the Governor. In two separate affidavits, the State had told the top court that in a cabinet meeting held on September 9, 2018, it had considered mercy petitions of seven convicts and resolved to recommend remission using the power granted under Article 161 of the Constitution.

Invoking its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the top court had on November 11 ordered the premature release of Nalini Sriharan, her husband Sriharan alias Murugan, RP Ravichandran, Santhan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar. After release, Murugan, Santhan, and Robert Payas, who are Lankan nationals, have since been lodged in the special camp for foreigners in Tiruchy.

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