Interestingly, the death sentence of the men had been reduced to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court yesterday. The SC, however, had left it to the state government to decide the fate of the killers.
Following this, the Jayalalitha government cabinet met today to decide on the release of the convicts. Earlier, the Nalini Sriharan's death sentence was repealed by Rajiv Gandhi's widow and the Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan were held in 1998 for the assassination of Rajeev Gandhi during a rally in 1991. They had appealed for mercy to the President in 2000, which got rejected 11 years later. Moreover, their hanging was stayed in 2011 by the Madras High Court.
The trial held on January 21 by the Supreme Court reduced the death sentence of the 15 convicts to life imprisonment due to "inordinate and inexplicable" delays in carrying out execution.
Meanwhile, while announcing the release of the three men, the chief justice of India P Sathasivam said,"It is definitely not a pleasure for this court to interfere with the powers of the President. We implore upon the government to advise the President so that mercy petitions can be disposed of at the earliest."
The Supreme Court has given the Centre 3 days to reply. Meanwhile, Jayalalitha has said that if the Centre does not approve of it, she would use state powers to release the assassins.