The Centre has said that releasing the four foreign nationals convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case “will set a very dangerous precedent and lead to international ramifications”, The Hindu reported on Wednesday.

Last week, President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the Tamil Nadu government’s request to release seven prisoners convicted for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The seven convicts are V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivalan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini. Perarivalan’s mother demanded euthanasia for her son last week, claiming he was “slowly dying in prison”.

In an order sent to the Tamil Nadu government, the Centre said: “The murder of a former Prime Minister, for what he did for the country was an act of exceptional depravity on the part of the accused, an unparalleled act in the annals of crimes committed in this country.”

The order was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on behalf of the President and said that the “diabolical plot carefully conceived and executed” by a highly organised foreign terrorist organisation claimed 16 lives, including nine police officers, and brought the democratic process to a halt.

In the last four years, the Tamil Nadu government has written twice to the Centre seeking pardon for the convicts and their release as they have already spent over 20 years in prison.