Chennai: Ahead of parliamentary elections, the AIADMK-PMK combine is set to reiterate its demand for release of all seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The alliance members are likely to put forward their recommendation during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Chennai on Wednesday.
According to top sources in AIADMK, the release of the convicts will help BJP's 'mega alliance' get political mileage in the run-up to the polls, as it could turn the public sentiment favourably.
"We have high hopes on the release of the convicts. We are constantly appealing to the BJP for this. During prime minister’s visit to Chennai, we'll make a direct request to him. We strongly believe they will be released soon," PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss said.
The release of Rajiv Gandhi's assassins was one of the issues raised by former CM J Jayalalithaa in February 2014, ahead of then Lok Sabha elections. Jayalalithaa had gone so far as to give the central government a three-day ultimatum to ensure the release of convicts, who have now been in jail for 28 years.
The former CM had threatened that if the Centre wouldn't release them in three days, the state government would free them. The then UPA government challenged her move in the Supreme Court.
This time, it is not just the AIADMK but also the PMK that is urging the Centre to ensure that all the seven convicts are released.
"One of the 10 demands we placed before the AIADMK ahead of the alliance was to ensure the release of seven convicts. We know that the Tamil Nadu government had taken a decision to seek the their release at a cabinet meeting, after which it submitted a petition to the governor," said Ramadoss, while addressing the media at the Secretariat.
In September last year, the Tamil Nadu government had recommended that the governor release all the convicts using his power under Article 161 of the Constitution.
According to the provision, governor has the power to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases. "The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends," it states.
While there were reports that governor Banwarilal Purohit had referred the case to the Centre, Raj Bhavan issued a statement denying the reports and added that a decision will be taken in a "fair and just" manner.
"A section of media has been reporting that in the matter of the release of the convicted prisoners undergoing life imprisonment for involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, a reference has been made to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. It is clarified that no reference has been made to the Ministry of Home Affairs in the matter. The case is a complex one and involves the examination of legal, administrative and constitutional issues," the statement read.