It ruled that the Centre has “primacy” over states’ right to grant remission in the cases investigated by the CBI or central agency like NIA, and state governments must get “concurrence” of the Central government before freeing convicts in certain cases.
Seven convicts undergoing life imprisonment for assassinating former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi will remain in jail as the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the Tamil Nadu government cannot unilaterally remit their sentences without consulting the Centre as the cases were investigated by CBI. It ruled that the Centre has “primacy” over states’ right to grant remission in the cases investigated by the CBI or central agency like NIA, and state governments must get “concurrence” of the Central government before freeing convicts in certain cases.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A five-judge bench, which settled questions arising out of Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free killers of Gandhi, dealt elaborately with the situations where the Centre will prevail over states’ decision to grant remission. The Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, who demitted office on Wednesday, also said that states cannot exercise “suo motu” the power to grant remission without any specific plea from the convicts. “…it is always safe and appropriate to hold that in those situations covered by sub-clauses (a) to (c) of Section 435(1) falling within the jurisdiction of the Central Government it will assume primacy and consequently the process of ‘Consultation’ in reality be held as the requirement of ‘Concurrence’,” the court said in its 258 page verdict. On February 18, 2014, the apex court had commuted death sentence of three convicts, Murugan, Santhan, Periarivalan. The next day, the Tamil Nadu government ordered the release of all the seven life convicts, including four others who were undergoing life term. The Centre rushed to the court on February 20, 2014 and had their release stayed.