Tamil Nadu, Mar 3: The government in the poll bound Tamil Nadu has once again sought the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
There is bound to be a legal debate on this subject with the Supreme Court frowning upon states who tend to remit life sentences with much ease.
The Tamil Nadu government in a letter to the Union Home Ministry has said that they have received petitions from the convicts who have been in jail for over 20 years.
TN also said that they had already decided to free the convicts, but as mandated under Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure they were seeking an opinion from the centre.
What does the law state:
In the year 2014, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on state governments for taking liberties while remitting sentences.
The Supreme Court has time and again said that a life sentence means imprisonment for life. In most states a life convict walks free thanks to remissions after 14 years.
However the Supreme Court in 2015 broke the year long hiatus and modified its earlier order. It stated that state governments could exercise their power of remission and free convicts. The Supreme Court however had a rider.
It said that the powers of remission cannot be used if the convicts were booked under laws such as TADA or POTA. Further it also stated that if the case has been investigated by the CBI or any other central agency then the powers of remission cannot be used.
The court also said this relaxation would also not apply where the convict has been awarded life term in cases of rape and murder, or when there is a specific court order not to grant remission.
The court however noted that since in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case the central government had challenged the decision of the Tamil Nadu government, this interim order would not be applicable.
The centre had immediately challenged the decision of the Tamil Nadu government when it decided to release the convicts.
The Centre has made it clear to the Supreme Court that the case was probed by CBI and hence only the Centre could take the decision.
The ball now is in the court of the centre. Since the above mentioned interim order is not applicable to the Rajiv Gandhi case, it is only the centre which can take the final call on the matter.