A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha issued notices to all state governments asking them to file their response by July 18 so that the matter can be taken up for hearing on July 22.

"Meanwhile, state governments are restrained from exercising power of remission for releasing life convicts till the next date of hearing," the bench said in an interim order.

The Apex Court bench made it clear that there was need for a categorical response ‘whether in CBI cases, states have any role on the question of remission to life convicts’.

The issue of remission was referred to the constitution bench after the Centre had challenged the Tamil Nadu government's decision to remit the sentences of all seven convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case.

The court had on February 20 stayed the state government's decision to release three convicts Murugan, Santhan and Arivu, whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it on February 18 in the case.

It had later also stayed the release of four other convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran in the case, saying there were procedural lapses on the part of the state government.

When the matter came for hearing along with other similarly situated convicts including the Red Fort attack case, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar submitted that the Tamil Nadu government has no power to exercise jurisdiction in the cases investigated and prosecuted by central probe agencies like the CBI.

"Today Tamil Nadu has exercised power (of remission). Tomorrow other states would also," he submitted while reading out the April 25 order of the Apex Court when the matter was referred to the constitution bench by framing the issues that need to be deliberated.


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