Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Law Minister CV Shanmugam on Tuesday submitted the papers to the governor recommending the release of all seven convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. They submitted the papers to Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhawan in Chennai.
The development comes two days after the AIADMK government accepted the mercy pleas of the convicts and decided to recommend their release to the governor, a move most political parties hailed in the state, barring the Congress.
The decision was made after the Supreme Court asked Purohit to consider the mercy petition of AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts serving a life term for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution. Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar had told reporters on Sunday that the governor would have to accept the decision by virtue of being the executive head of the state.
Jayakumar had said that though the top court had given its order on Perarivalan's petition, the Tamil Nadu government had decided to recommend his release, as well as those of the other six convicts, to the governor as they had also sent their mercy petitions.
The other six are V Sriharan alais Murugan, his wife Nalini Sriharan, T Suthendraraja alais Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran. They include both Indians and Sri Lankans.
The convicts are serving a life sentence for their role in the assassination of the former prime minister by an LTTE suicide bomber on 21 May, 1991 in Sriperumpudur.
When pointed to the Centre's opposition to their release and whether Purohit can decide on the matter without consulting it, Jayakumar had shot back saying there was no need for the governor to take the Union government's opinion. "He has to accept and will accept" the Tamil Nadu cabinet's decision since it was an appeal under Article 161 of the Constitution," he said.
However, a Ministry of Home Affairs official told PTI on Tuesday that as per law, Purohit has no power to release the seven convicts and will have to consult the Centre on the matter as the investigation into the assassination was carried out by a team led by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
This is the second time the Tamil Nadu cabinet decided to set all the seven convicts free. In February 2014, the cabinet of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had decided to release the convicts, but the Supreme Court had stayed the decision on a petition by the Centre.
With inputs from agencies