The Madras High Court today pulled up the Tamil Nadu government after it wanted to file a fresh counter affidavit on a plea by two lifers in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case seeking premature release. “How many counters you will file?” Justice A Selvam heading a division bench asked the Additional Public Prosecutor (APP), V M R Rajendran. The bench also comprised Justice Pon Kalaiyarasan. The judge’s reaction came after Rajendran said the government wanted to file a fresh counter affidavit in place of the one dated December 10, 2012. The APP sought one week’s time for filing the fresh counter stating its stand on the plea by the petitioners. The bench later adjourned the hearing on the petitions, filed in 2012, to August 22. The previous counter, served on the petitioners Robert Payas and Jayakumar on August 16, had opposed their plea for including their names in the list of 180 prisoners proposed to be released prematurely in 2012 on Republic Day eve. This was in contrast to the state government’s decision taken later to set free all the seven convicts in the case, a matter pending in the Supreme Court after the Centre opposed it.
The state government, in the affidavit, had submitted that Payas, according to his own admission, was a Sri Lankan national and hence his claim that his incarceration was violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India was incorrect. The Centre in its counter had said Payas and Jayakumar were not entitled to premature release in view of the Supreme Court’s ruling that life sentence meant imprisonment for the entire life of a person. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber on May 21, 1991 at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near here.