The governor “cannot be compelled” on the matter, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters here, even as the state cabinet’s recommendation for their release is pending with him.
The three AIADMK men convicted in the killing of three women students in the ‘Dharmapuri bus burning case’ in 2000 recently walked free from prison because there was “no malafide intention” on their part, he added.
Officials had also explained to Purohit the case before he approved their release, he said.
Underlining the AIADMK government’s “sincerity” towards the release of the seven convicts, Jayakumar said this was evident from the fact that the state cabinet met on a Sunday (September 9), where it decided to recommend to Purohit their release.
“It is a cabinet decision, which means not only the chief minister and ministers (were involved) but it was reflective of the sentiments of all Tamils. The fact that the cabinet meeting was held on a Sunday shows how sincere the government is for their release,” he said.
However, “The governor cannot be compelled,” he said.
“The government has taken a cabinet decision and the governor will for sure respect it and take a due decision soon. That confidence is there,” Jayakumar said.
The state cabinet had earlier decided to recommend to Purohit, the release of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini, all serving life imprisonment in connection with the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The decision was taken following the Supreme Court asking the governor to consider the mercy petition of Perarivalan seeking remission or pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution.
Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near here by an LTTE woman suicide bomber at an election rally.
Responding to the release of the three AIADMK men, Jayakumar said they were released as they had served over 10 years, besides there was “no malafide intention” in their action.
He also said the relevant departments had given due explanation to the governor on the matter, before he approved the files seeking their release.
A Nedunchezhian, G Ravindran and C Muniappan, serving life sentence for setting ablaze a bus in Dharmapuri that killed three women students of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 2000, were released prematurely from the Vellore Central Prison on November 19.
They were released in commemoration of the birth centenary celebrations (2017-18) of former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran, also AIADMK founder.
Soon after former chief minister J Jayalalithaa was convicted in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case on February 2, 2000 for allegedly flouting norms to favour a hotel at Kodaikanal, AIADMK workers held protests and a mob torched a varsity bus the same day in Dharmapuri.
Three students, Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha died in the blaze amid commotion while 44 other students and two college lecturers managed to escape.
The Raj Bhavan had later said Purohit approved their premature release after being satisfied that they would be “absorbed” by the society without any disturbance.
The decision was also taken based on grounds that the apex court had observed that the deaths took place in a state of mob frenzy and considering that the convicts had been in prison for 13 years.
Purohit eventually cleared them only after obtaining legal opinion from the state advocate general.
The Raj Bhavan had said that advocate general Vijay Narayan, chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and home secretary Niranjan Mardi had met the governor on October 31 “and said the three life convicts had no intention to kill and that they set fire to the bus in a state of mob frenzy.”