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The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to file by August 16 its counter to a petition by two life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking to be included in the list of 180 accused proposed for premature release on Republic Day eve. When the Habeas Corpus Petition filed by Robert Payas and Jayakumar came up for hearing today, justices A Selvam and Pon Kalaiarasan in its order said "considering the long pendency of the matter the respondent (government) is directed to file the counter by August 16." It then adjourned the matter to that date. A habeas corpus plea is a petition which is filed to ensure a person under arrest is brought before a court which will determine whether the detention is legal. On January 23, the state government had informed the Madras High Court that it would find out and inform it whether names of the two convicts were included in the list. The Additional Public Prosecutor had informed the court that about 180 accused are proposed to be prematurely released and it has to be ascertained whether the names of Payas and Jayakumar were in the list. The two were originally sentenced to death for their role in the assassination of the former prime minister on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near here by an LTTE suicide bomber, but it was later commuted to life sentence by the Supreme Court in 1999.
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