New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday told the Lok Sabha that the Centre is examining the letter sent by the Tamil Nadu government on its decision to remit the sentence of life imprisonment of all seven Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts and release them.
“ We are examining the letter,” the minister said.
“The Supreme Court has already ruled on the matter. It is our constitutional and moral responsibility to move as per the apex court ruling,” Rajnath told the House.
The Supreme Court had on December 2, 2015 directed the Tamil Nadu government not to remit the life term of the convicts without the approval of the Centre.
Earlier, the Supreme Court, in an order issued on February 18, 2014, had commuted the death sentence imposed on three convicts - V Sriharan (alias Murugan), T Suthendraraja (alias Santhan) and AG Perarivalan (alias Arivu) - holding that the 11-year-long delay in deciding their mercy petition had a dehumanising effect on them.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi earlier today said that it is for the government to decide what stand to take on Tamil Nadu's move to free former prime minister and his father Rajiv Gandhi's killers.
“The government has to decide,” Rahul said even as the Congress party opposed the Tamil Nadu government's decision to remit the sentence of life imprisonment of all seven convicts and release them.
Rahul said as a son, he would not voice his personal opinion on the issue.
Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge said the Tamil Nadu government's letter to the Centre on Rajiv Gandhi's killers release shouldn't be entertained.
“They should not be released,” Kharge said.
While announcing the decision, the J Jayalalithaa government had said that it has sought the Centre's views on the move.
In a letter to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Gnanadesikan said the state government had received petitions from the seven convicts requesting to release them as they had spent more than 20 years in prison.
The convicts are V Sriharan (alias Murugan), T Suthendraraja (alias Santhan), AG Perarivalan (alias Arivu), Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini.
"Nalini has also filed a writ plea in the Madras High Court requesting the government of Tamil Nadu to release her," he said.
"The Government of Tamil Nadu, after taking into consideration the petitions of the seven convicts, has decided to remit the sentences of life imprisonment and to release the seven persons since all of them have already served imprisonment for 24 years," he said.
Out of the seven convicts, V Sriharan, T Suthendraraja, Jayakumar and Robert Payas are Sri Lankans.
(With PTI inputs)