New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to lift the stay on the release of seven death-row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Taking up the issue of release of life convicts by state governments, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justices Ibrahim Kalifulla, Pinaki Ghose, AM Sapre and UU Lalit said it will “not tinker with any of our earlier orders” for the time being.
The apex court had in July last year restrained state governments from releasing convicts serving life terms, on remission.
While adjourning the matter for further hearing on July 21, the bench said that it will hear the matter “in detail” and then decide on returning power of remission to state governments.
In February last year, the Supreme Court had commuted the death sentences of three of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case - Murugan, Santhan and Periarivalan - to life terms.
Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu government, exercising its remission powers, had ordered their release along with four other convicts who are serving life terms - Nalini, Robert Pius, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.
The Centre had, however, obtained stay on the convicts' release from the apex court.
The central government had argued before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that since the case was being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, only it had the power of remission and not the state government.
The three-judge bench had then referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
The Constitution Bench had in July last year stayed release of life convicts by state governments.