The Union government filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to review and overturn its November 11 order ordering the release of six Rajiv Gandhi assassination case defendants by granting sentence reduction on the grounds that the court erred by expanding the list of foreign terrorists found guilty of the former PM's assassination without consulting the Center.
Seeking open court hearing of its review petition, generally considered in chamber by judges, the Centre said the order releasing six convicts - Nalini Sriharan, Santhan alias Raviraj, Murugan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran alias Ravi - wrongly drew parity with earlier released convict AG Perarivalan. The latter is an Indian whereas four of the six released on November 11 were foreign nationals. It said, “Out of the six convicts who have been granted remission, four are Sri Lankan nationals. Granting remission to terrorist of foreign nation, who had been duly convicted in accordance with the law of land for gruesome offence of assassinating the former PM of the country, is a matter which has international ramification and therefore falls squarely within the sovereign powers of the Union of India. ” The Centre complained that in such an important matter, the court did not hear the Union government and thus crucial material facts against the release could not be placed before the court.
The SC confirmed the death sentences given to Nalini, Santhan, Murugan, and Arivu on May 11, 1999, and remitted the death sentences of Robert Payas, Jayakumar, and Ravichandran to life in prison.
According to the Centre, the SC released the six convicts on November 11 "without providing an adequate opportunity for hearing to Union of India, which was a necessary party to the present case, or being formally impleaded as a party to the petition, the onus of which rested with the appellants/convicts."