Even as the Supreme Court stayed for two weeks release of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, there is no court order so far or anything in law preventing the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu or the convicts from approaching the Governor to exercise his power of remission of sentence under Article 161 of the Constitution, legal experts say.
The Centre’s application, acting on which a bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam ordered status quo on the trio’s release, challenged the powers of Tamil Nadu to release the convicts under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Since the main plank is CrPC compliance, the state government and the convicts could approach the Governor to exercise his powers under Article 161, which gives powers to the Governor to pardon convicts and suspend, remit or commute sentences. Although the Governor has already rejected their mercy petitions, the convicts can move for remission of sentence in view of changed circumstances. The Governor, however, is bound to act on advice of the Council of Ministers.
The Tamil Nadu government and the convicts can approach the Governor before the next date of hearing.
If they choose to do so, they can tell the court that they have moved the Governor under Constitutional provisions. The state government may inform the court they intend to withdraw the proposal to the Centre in the wake of the fresh plea with the Governor.