The Supreme Court today referred the matter on remission of life imprisonment of seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to a Constitution Bench and said its interim order staying the Tamil Nadu government's decision to free them will continue.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the petition filed by the Centre, challenging the Tamil Nadu government's decision to remit the sentences, will be decided by the Constitution Bench and framed seven questions to be decided by it.
It said that the Constitution Bench, which will take up the matter within three months, will also decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government.
The court had on February 20 stayed the decision to release of three convicts--Murugan, Santhan and Arivu-- whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it on February 18 in the case, saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the state government on the decision to release them.
The apex court later on had also stayed release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran inthe case.
The Jayalalithaa government had on February 19 decided to set free all the seven convicts in the assassination case.
Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore and they are in jail since 1991.
The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi's assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.