Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv GandhiReuters

The Centre has said it is yet to decide on remitting the prison sentences of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. According to earlier reports, the Centre had rejected Tamil Nadu government's proposal to release the seven convicts serving prison term for the assassination of the former prime minister.

The state of Tamil Nadu had written to the Central government on March 2, 2016 saying that they had already decided to remit the prison sentence of the seven convicts, but were seeking the Centre's opinion as mandated in Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Express reported. The Supreme Court in December 2015 had said that the state government doesn't have the jurisdiction to remit sentences in cases tried under Central law and probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The seven convicts — V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivalan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini — have served more than 20 years each.

"The process of consultation with the Law Ministry on Tamil Nadu government request is still on. The final decision is yet to be taken," the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was quoted as saying by News18.

"Since the matter is sub judice in Supreme Court, it has no authority to release the prisoners," MHA told the state in response, according to the Hindu.

"The Government of Tamil Nadu has now received petitions from the convicts with requests to release them since they have spent more than 20 years in prison ... the Government, after taking into consideration the petitions of the seven convicts, has decided to remit the sentences of life imprisonment as they have already served imprisonment for 24 years," Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Gnanadesikan wrote in a letter to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, according to the Hindu.

The state government had earlier written to the UPA government in 2014 seeking the convicts' release, making the recent request the second one in two years.

The mother of convict Ravichandran had written to Gnanadesikan seeking medical treatment for the convict in a private or government hospital as his health was failing him, the Hindu reported. The convicts, who had been jailed when they were in their twenties, are now mostly in late forties. Meanwhile, another convict Murugan has taken an indefinite vow of silence, the Times of India reported.

Nalini, the only survivor who was present when two suicide bombers killed Gandhi, was recently out on parole to attend her father's last rites. During her 12-hour parole she was quoted as saying that she "never committed a crime." She is the only female to serve 25 years in an Indian prison," Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi party leader Thol Thirumavalan had then told the Indian Express.