April 05 2020
Govt. to write to Purohit on Rajiv case
04 November 2018

The Tamil Nadu government is likely to take up shortly the matter of release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case with Governor Banwarilal Purohit.

A communication to this effect, reiterating the government’s decision taken at the Cabinet meeting on September 9, might be sent after the Deepavali holidays, a source in the government said.

The Governor will also be requested to expedite the process of release of the convicts.

The letter may go from Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Niranjan Mardi to Additional Chief Secretary to the Governor R. Rajagopal, according to the source.

There is nothing new in the government’s position as Ministers, in recent weeks, have gone on record saying that the government had done its bit and it was for Mr. Purohit to act. They had also pointed out that there was nothing in law that set a time frame for the Governor to take a decision.

However, the position of Mr. Purohit is that he would not be able to act on the Cabinet’s recommendation during the pendency of a case in the Supreme Court, which challenges the State government’s 2014 decision to remit the sentences of the seven convicts.

The court, in mid-September, allowed the petitioners to file a revised petition in four weeks. Congress spokesperson Americai V. Narayanan, one of the petitioners and who had moved the court in his personal capacity, told The Hindu on Saturday: “Our petition is ready. As soon as the court indicates time for the next hearing, we will file the petition.”

Legal precedents

The proposed initiative of the government is also based on legal opinion obtained by the government. The opinion quotes the court’s verdict in the Maru Ram v Union of India case delivered in November 1980 and in Ramdeo Chauhan v Bani Kant Das case delivered exactly 30 years later.

The argument, as set out in the opinion, runs like this: The power of pardon, under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution, can be exercised by the Central and State governments and not by the President and the Governors on their own. Also, wherever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the President and the Governors for the purpose of exercise of any power or function, it is not the personal satisfaction of the Governors or the President that matters but the satisfaction of the Council of Ministers.

All these aspects were likely to be captured in the communication of the government to be sent to the Governor’s office, the source added.



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