Supreme Court, Manipur
On August 1, the top court said there was a complete breakdown of law and order and constitutional machinery in Manipur | File photo

Rajiv killers' release: Unacceptable; don't agree with Sonia too, says Cong

The Congress on Friday slammed the Supreme Court decision to free Nalini Sriharan and five other convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, saying it even “disagreed with Sonia Gandhi” on this.

The party termed “totally unacceptable and completely erroneous” the Supreme Court order saying that the apex court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue. The Congress said it would seek legal remedies.

The Supreme Court had on Friday ordered the premature release of six convicts serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, including Nalini Sriharan and R P Ravichandran, serving life sentence in the case. A bench of Justices B R Gavai and B V Nagarathna said the judgement of the top court in the case of A G Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the case, is equally applicable in their matter.

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC orders release of Nalini, five others

‘Cong stand consistent’

“In this case, the Congress views are the same as the Central government’s. The party does not agree with Sonia Gandhi’s view, has never agreed with that view, and has made this view clear for years,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“We are consistent about our stand. This is an institutional matter. The sovereignty, integrity and the identity of a nation is involved in the assassination of a former Prime Minister,” said the Congress leader.

In 2000, Nalini’s sentence was reduced to a life term on the intervention of Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi had urged the court to show clemency to Nalini, who was pregnant when she was arrested.

Congress statement

Following the SC ruling, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that the decision of the Supreme Court is “totally unacceptable and completely erroneous”.

“The Congress party criticises it clearly and finds it wholly untenable. It is most unfortunate that the Supreme Court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue,” he said.

Plea against Madras HC order

Nalini Sriharan and Ravichandran had moved the top court seeking premature release.
Both of them had challenged a June 17 order of the Madras High Court, which rejected their pleas for early release, and cited the apex court judgment ordering the release of co-convict Perarivalan.

Nalini, Ravichandran, Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan, Robert Payas and Jayakumar were sentenced to life terms in the case.

Also read: SC answers several questions with historic Perarivalan verdict

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at a poll rally.

SC decision a thing of joy: P Pugalenthi

The Supreme Court decision to release six convicts, including Nalini Sriharan, is a thing of joy, her counsel, P Pugalenthi said on Friday.

“Magizhchi”, the advocate said when his reaction was sought on the release ordered by the apex court. The Tamil word denotes a state of joy or jubilation and happiness.

“The SC verdict is a reminder that Governor must act on Cabinet recommendation and release the prisoners,” he told PTI and cited the Maru Ram versus Union of India judgment of the apex court to support his point.

The previous AIADMK government had in September 2018 recommended to the then Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the release of all seven convicts in the high profile assassination case. One of the seven, Perarivalan, was freed by the Supreme Court earlier in 2022.

(With Agency inputs)

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