Life imprisonment is for life, says SC in Rajiv Gandhi killers' case

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New Delhi, Dec 2: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, Dec 2, set the record straight on the powers of a state government in remitting the sentences of convicts, especially those who were on a death row.

The Supreme Court today held that the state of Tamil Nadu could release the seven persons convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Rajiv Gandhi

Delivering the majority verdict, the Constitution Bench held that when a sentence of life imprisonment is awarded it would mean the prisoner stays in jail for life.

Tamil Nadu had decided to release the seven convicts- Santhan, Arivu, Nalini, Robert, Pius,Jayakumar, and Ravichandran.

These persons were originally awarded a death sentence, but in February 2014 their sentences were commuted to life by the Supreme Court.

The Tamil Nadu government immediately took a decision to release these persons, but the centre objected to the same following it went up before a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

Highlights of the verdict:

  • Supreme Court says TN government has no suo motu power to release the seven Rajiv Gandhi killers on remission without concurrence of Centre.
  • Centre should have primacy in decisions on remission of sentences when Central agencies such as the CBI is involved in the probe.
  • Centre's approval is mandatory for the Tamil Nadu government to remit the sentences.
  • Consultation of state and centre would mean concurrence. State should have prior consent of centre before issuing order of remittance.
  • Life imprisonment is for life.

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