Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday urged President Ram Nath Kovind to accept the recommendation made by the state government in 2018 and remit the life sentences of the seven Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts and direct their immediate release. The convicts have been undergoing the “agony of imprisonment" for the past about three decades and the state has been demanding their early release, he said.
A majority of political parties have been requesting remission of the remainder of their sentences and their immediate release. “It is also the will of the people of Tamil Nadu," Stalin said in a letter addressed to Kovind. The letter, dated May 19, was made available to media outlets on Thursday.
V Sriharan alias Murugan, his wife Nalini, Santhan, A G Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and P Ravichandran are the seven convicts. The Chief Minister recalled that the Tamil Nadu government had on September 9, 2018 recommended to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to remit the rest of sentences of all the seven convicts and their early release.
“The purported obstacle for exercise of the power of remission was the pendency of the investigation by the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency of CBI. It has been clarified by the respective stands of the Union Government and CBI before the Supreme Court that there is no connection between the remission of the sentence and investigation." Thereafter, the Governor decided that the President is the competent authority to decide on remission of sentences and forwarded the state government’s recommendation to Kovind’s office, Stalin said.
“These seven persons have already suffered untold hardship and agony in the past three decades and have paid a heavy price. There has already been an inordinate delay in the consideration of their pleas for remission. In the present circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, courts are also recognising the need to decongest prisons." Therefore, the CM requested Kovind to “kindly accept the recommendation of the state government" and pass appropriate orders for remission of life sentences of all the seven convicts and direct their immediate release.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near here by a woman suicide bomber, Dhanu, at an election rally of the Congress party. Major parties, including the ruling DMK, main opposition AIADMK favour setting the Rajiv case convicts free.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief K S Alagiri had said last year that only the judiciary should decide on remission of their sentences. If the Rajiv case case convicts were to be set free, a demand would arise for the release of all “murder convicts" who have spent over 25 years in prison.
“If the court announces the release of seven Rajiv case convicts, we will accept it. However, political parties rooting for their release is unacceptable," the TN Congress leader had said.