Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday came down strongly on the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free seven people convicted of killing former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, saying the move would be “contrary to all principles of justice”.
Singh’s sharp response came as the Union home ministry asked the Tamil Nadu government not to release the seven, saying there must be prior consultation with the Centre before such a decision is taken.
The home ministry has informed the state government that all seven were prosecuted under central laws such as TADA, Arms Act and Explosives Act, and hence prior consultation with the Central government was necessary, officials said.
In his statement, the PM said the Tamil Nadu government has been told not to proceed with its decision as it is “not legally tenable”, adding that no government or party should be soft in the fight against terrorism.
“The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was an attack on the soul of India,” Singh said in the statement, issued soon after the government moved a review petition in the Supreme Court.
“The release of the killers of a former prime minister of India and our great leader, as well as several other innocent Indians, would be contrary to all principles of justice,” the Prime Minister asserted.
In its letter to the state government, the MHA cited Section 435 of CrPC under which the Tamil Nadu government sought to remit the sentence and clarified that the powers “shall not be exercised by the state government except after consultation with the Central government”.
The law also made it clear that prior consultation with the Central government was necessary in any case which was investigated by CBI, set up under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, said an official.
It also said the opinion of the presiding judge who confirmed the conviction is mandatory before grant of such remission, something which the Tamil Nadu government had not done.
The MHA said whenever an investigation is done under Central laws, the views of the Central government prevail in case of giving remittance. It said the decision to set free the seven convicts in the sensational case is against all principles of justice and legally not tenable.