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Tamil Nadu awaits Governor’s decision on convicts
By Nirmala Joseph September 11, 2018
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CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu on Monday was eagerly awaiting Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s decision on the state government’s recommendation to release all seven convicts in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Officials at the state secretariat confirmed that Sunday’s cabinet decision has already been sent to the Raj Bhavan. Legal experts say the Governor has time to act on the recommendation and is not likely to act in haste.

Political circles see the possibility of consultations with the central government, whose representative the Governor is. Purohit has a political background and is capable of understanding the implications. Raj Bhavan sources say he has commenced consultation with legal experts.

The Governor has five options, experts say: One, he can accept the recommendation without delay and order the release. Two, he can take time.

He might consult the Union government, because Rajiv Gandhi was a prime minister and because the release could impact Sri Lanka also since the convicts are members of the Tamil Tiger group that terrorised the neighbouring country for three decades. The Governor maycan ask the state government to reconsider its decision. He can even reject the recommendation.

The Union government had opposed the release in the apex court on Aug.20 though the state had consented it. If is sticks to that stand, the Governor is not likely to take a different stand. It might trigger fury from Tamil outfits sympathetic to the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka, but the BJP has never bothered about it and has little to lose in Tamil Nadu. Edappadi Palaniswami government’s recommendation followed a Supreme Court ruling last week, which said the state Governor has the powers to free the convicts if the state government recommends. A resolution to this effect was adopted by the state cabinet chaired by Palaniswami.

The convicts, Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini, are serving life imprisonment for the past 27 years.

The Supreme Court was responding to a mercy petition from Perarivalan seeking remission or pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution. The court also disposed of the Centre’s petition opposing the State government’s earlier proposal for the release of the convicts.

In 2014, when J. Jayalalithaa was chief minister, Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution to release the seven convicts.

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