NEW DELHI, Feb 20 � The seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case will not be able to immediately walk out of jail with the Supreme Court today citing �procedural lapses� by the Tamil Nadu government, which decided to release them, reports PTI.
The immediate effect of the apex court�s order was on three prisoners � Murugan, Santhan and Arivu � whose death sentence was commutted to life on February 18 by it as the Centre�s petition mentioned only their names, but a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam allowed it to file a separate application on the remaining four prisoners.
As the apex court has raised questions and agreed to examine in detail the procedure adopted by the state government in deciding to release them, the seven convicts will remain in jail till further orders.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and NV Ramana, at the beginning of proceedings expressed surprise on how the state government claimed to have fulfilled all the procedures within a day after the apex court commuted the death sentence of three prisoners.
�The commutation of death sentence into life cannot automatically lead to their release,� the bench observed and said the state cannot abrogate the procedures required under the law.
�Our judgement was pronounced on Tuesday morning and it was available at 5 pm and the newspaper reports came out only on Wednesday,� the bench said while spelling out the procedures required for release of the convicts.
�There are several procedural steps required to be followed and an application has to be filed before a presiding judge of a competent court for remitting sentence which was not done,� it said.