The release of Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, who were jailed over the death of Rajiv Gandhi, has been halted by the Supreme Court in Delhi, overturning the decision made by Tamil Nadu’s state government.
The court had already stopped the release of three other inmates - Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan - last week, but said it will decide within a week on who has the power to decide over the fate of the seven detainees.
"Our intention is not to stop the release. We will lay down guidelines. Every state must be aware of rules and procedure to be followed," said the Chief Justice of India, P Sathasivam.
Tamil Nadu says it would be within its rights to release the inmates.
"If we wanted, we could have released these four. Why should the Centre rush to court?" the state government argued in court, which responded by asking, "Who is rushing? You or the Centre?"
Meanwhile, tension has increased in Tamil Nadu over the issue, with several statues of Rajiv Gandhi vandalised. A group called "Tamil Padai" (Tamil Force), attempted to storm the headquarters of the Congress Party in Tamil Nadu.
Clashes also broke out between supporters of the Congress Party and another Tamil organisation, Tamilar Munettra Padai, which left four people injured.