December 4, 2022

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of all six remaining convicts of the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, noting they had been imprisoned for over three decades and that the Tamil Nadu government released it on September 9 In 2018, her release was binding on the state governor.

The release order if Nalini Sriharan, Murugan aka Sriharan, PR Ravichandran, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and S. Raja, a bench composed of Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna, relying on the powers of the Apex Court pursuant to Article 142 of the Constitution, noted that their behavior during the long incarceration was good, they continued their studies, engaged in extracurricular activities, and worked for charities.

“The applicants are therefore ordered to be released unless wanted on another case. The matter is accordingly settled,” the bank said in its order, granting her pleas for her release.

The court relied on the May 18 judgment of a panel of judges, composed of Judges L. Nageswara Rao (since retired), BR Gavai and AS Bopanna, ordering the release of one of seven convicts – AG Perarivalan.

The court had stated in its May 18 ruling that “the advice of the State Cabinet shall bind the governor in the exercise of his powers under Article 161 of the Constitution.” Article 161 of the Constitution sets out the governor’s powers to grant pardons, etc and, in certain cases, suspend, waive or commute penalties.

The six convicts released on Friday had invoked the May 18 verdict to urge their release.

The court sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu center and government on September 26, initially at Nalini Sriharan’s and Ravichandran’s request for their early release. They had appealed the decision of the Madras High Court of 17 June 2022, which rejected their request for early release.

The High Court, which rejected the petition, had said it did not have the full powers of the Supreme Court under Article 142 and therefore could not order her release, as the Supreme Court did for Perarivalan in May 2022. On 9 September 2018 The Tamil Nadu Government decided to grant immunity to Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan, Nalini, Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran. The decision was communicated to then-governor Banwarilal Purohit, who sat over it for three years without deciding one way or the other.

First, in February 2014, the decision to release seven convicts was taken, which led to a protracted legal battle before the Supreme Court at the instance of the central government, which had opposed the waiver of the sentences for the convicts.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the Dhanu “human bomb” on May 21, 1991 during a public meeting in Sriperumbudur.

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