SC puts TN Govt in a fix over release of Rajiv killers
Tamil Nadu

SC puts TN Govt in a fix over release of Rajiv killers

S.Murari

The Supreme Court has put the AIADMK Government in a spot by asking it to find out from the Governor when he proposes to take a decision on Rajiv Gandhi killers’ remission plea.

A division of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, dealing with a petition filed by Perarivalan, one of the convicts, observed on Tuesday that it cannot issue a direction to the Governor.

Tamil Nadu counsel Balaji Srinivasan said the State Cabinet’s decision seeking release of all seven convicts had been pending with the Governor since September 2018 . Counsel, however, said ”we cannot control the Governor as he is a superior authority”.

Responding to this submission, the bench said the State Government can ask the Governor “as he cannot indefinitely sit on a file”.

The court deferred the hearing by two weeks to enable the State Government to get back to it.

Reacting to this development, Law Minister C V Shanmugham on Wednesday echoed the view of government counsel that it can only recommend to the Governor and that it cannot set a time limit to him to take a decision.

When this issue flared up in September 2018 after the Supreme Court asked Perarivalan to file a remission petition with the Governor, Shanmugham told reporters that Rahul Gandhi himself had said he had no objection to the release of these convicts. The Cabinet also recommended their premature release under Art 161.

However, Governor Banwarilal Purohit kept the issue pending so far as the Centre was opposed to the release of these convicts, who have spent over 28 years in jail, on the ground that it would have national ramifications. However, recently Central Government counsel told the Supreme Court that it has no objection to the premature release of these prisoners.

Thereafter Leader of the Opposition and DMK chief M K Stalin stepped up pressure on the Edappadi Government to get the Governor to go by the decision taken by the Cabinet and a unanimous resolution adopted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

But the Governor is unmoved. The Modi Government wants not to lose the support of Tamil Nadu people over the issue. At the same time, it does not want to give any elbow room to Tamil nationalists in the State. So it is using the Governor to stall the issue, if possible till the next Assembly elections, due in May 2021.

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