The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking a direction to the Union government to remove Banwarilal Purohit as Tamil Nadu Governor for not passing orders on the Council of Ministers' advice to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
A Division Bench, comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha dismissed as not maintainable, the petition of president of Kanchipuram District Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, M Kannadasan.
The petitioner submitted that the Council of Ministers had passed a resolution on September 9, 2018, recommending and advising the Tamil Nadu Governor to order premature release of seven convicts.
Despite a lapse of nearly 15 months, the Governor was yet to take a call and therefore such 'inaction' amounted to violation of provisions of the Constitution, Kannadasan said.
He said he had also submitted a representation to the union government on November 22, 2019, pointing out the 'inaction' on the part of the Governor and prayed for appropriate action to remove him and it was acknowledged on December 3, 2019. The petitioner, alleging inaction on the part of Union government, filed the above writ petition.
Home Ministry Officials had said the Governor has no power to release the seven convicts as recommended by the state government and would have to consult the Centre as per law. Since the probe into the case was done by CBI, the Governor would have to consult the central government before taking a decision to remit or commute the sentence of the seven convicts, they had said.
The AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu had recommended to the Governor to release the convicts, a move hailed by most political parties in the state.
On August 10, 2018, the Centre had opposed in the Supreme Court, the proposal of the Tamil Nadu government to release the seven convicts, saying that setting them free would set a wrong precedent. The Supreme Court had said that the state government cannot remit sentence of any convict in cases probed by a central agency and the Centre's approval was mandatory to release the killers of Rajiv Gandhi as the case was probed by the CBI.
Nalini, her husband Murugan, Santhan, Robert Payas, Perarivalan, Ravichandran and S Jayakumar are serving life term in connection with the assassination of Gandhi by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991.
(With inputs from PTI)