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Tamil Nadu Govt Opposes Premature Release of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convict

Tamil Nadu Govt Opposes Premature Release of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convict

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The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the plea for premature release of B Robert Payas, a Sri Lankan national, convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This is  a departure from its proposal to set free all seven convicts in the case.

The state government opposed Payas' release in a counter affidavit filed in the court last week. A copy of it was served to the petitioner's counsel today.

The counter affidavit was in response to a petition by Payas and another convict in the case Jayakumar seeking their names to be included in the list of 180 prisoners proposed to be released prematurely in 2012 on Republic Day eve.

At the last hearing of the petition by the convicts on August 9, Justices A Selvam and Pon Kalaiarasan had directed the state government to file its counter affidavit by today while noting the "long pendency of the matter".

Accordingly, when the matter came up today, the counter affidavit by the Principal Home Secretary was handed over to the counsel for Payas.

In its affidavit, the government submitted Payas, according to his own admission, was a Sri Lankan national and hence his claim that his incarceration was violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India was incorrect.

He was involved in the brutal assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in May 1991 which had many political ramifications. It was definitely an important incident in the Indian political scene resulting in the stalling of the democratic process for a few days, it said.

An Advisory Board had in its September 18, 2009 report said the petitioner had rejected the petitioner's application for premature release.

The Judges posted the matter for further hearing on August 18.

The Centre's counter affidavit said Payas and Jayakumar were not entitled to premature release in view of the Supreme Court's ruling that life sentence meant imprisonment for the entire life of a person.

It also referred to the Tamil Nadu government's proposal to remit the life sentences and release of seven convicts, including the two petitioners, and said the Union government had challenged the (state's) decision in the Supreme Court where the matter was pending.

It said the apex court had on December 2, 2015 categorically held that in this matter the Union government was the appropriate authority to decide on remission of sentence as the case was investigated by the CBI, a central agency.  

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