A week after the Tamil Nadu government decided to recommend the release of the seven convicts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Banwarilal Purohit, has said that a decision has not yet been reached on the matter.
On September 9, in a Cabinet meeting of state ministers, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami decided to recommend the release of Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran â€“ all serving life terms for assassinating the then-sitting Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. The ball is now in the Governorâ€™s court.
Several media houses had carried reports on the Governor making a recommendation for the release of the prisoners. However, in a carefully worded press release, the Raj Bhavan said, "It is clarified that no reference has been made to the Ministry of Home Affairs in the matter. The case is a complex one and involves the examination of legal, administrative and Constitutional views."
The statement also made it known that the files on the convicts from the Tamil Nadu government had only been received on Friday. Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar had said that it would be sent last Sunday.
The statement also sought to assure that the papers would be processed scrupulously. "Necessary consultation may be carried out, when required, in due course. The decision will be taken in a just and fair manner and in accordance with the Constitution."
The state cabinet recommended the release under Article 161 (Power of Governor to suspend or pardon sentences) of the Constitution.
The issue was fraught with tension as relatives of those who had also died in the bomb blast have come forward and stated that the prisoners should not be released.
The Prime Minister was assassinated at a public rally in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991 by Dhanu, a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).