A G Perarivalan Walks Free: Supreme Court Allows Release Of Convict In Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case

by Swarajya Staff - May 18, 2022 05:39 PM +05:30 IST
A G Perarivalan Walks Free: Supreme Court Allows Release Of Convict In Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case Rajiv Gandhi
Snapshot
  • Perarivalan was convicted in 1998 and was sentenced to death by TADA court. His death sentence was commuted to life in 2014.

    He was accused of buying the two 9-volt batteries used in the bomb to assassinate the former prime minister.

Using its special power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court ordered the release of A G Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. As per Article 142, the Supreme Court can pass any order necessary to do complete justice in any case or matter pending before it.

History of the Convict

A G Perarivalan was convicted in 1998 and was sentenced to death by TADA court. His death sentence was commuted to life in 2014.

He was accused of buying the two 9-volt batteries used in the bomb to assassinate the former prime minister on 21 May 1991. Rajiv Gandhi was attending a political rally at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu, when a suicide bomber, Dhanu, detonated an RDX explosive-laden belt, on the pretext of greeting the former PM. During the blast, 16 more people lost their lives.

State vs Centre

The Bench of the Supreme Court included Justice L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai. They passed the order stating delay in the Governor’s response to the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu State Cabinet to remit A G Perarivalan’s sentence. The Tamil Nadu government had recommended remitting the sentences of all seven convicts in September 2018.

The Governor sent the file to the President of India in January 2021. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Governor was required to consult with the central government before taking a decision to remit or commute the sentence of the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination, since the case was being investigated by a CBI led team.

Supreme Court’s Intervention

However, on May 11, 2022, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Centre’s assertion and emphasised that the Governor is fully equipped to grant pardon, without having to consult the President. In its order to release A G Perarivalan, the Court said that any delay on the part of the Governor to decide on the exercise of powers under Article 161 to grant pardon, remission of sentence etc is subject to judicial review.

Owing to the judiciary’s urgency and exercise of its power, one of the convicts of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination would walk free today. Despite the Centre’s plea that the case involves an ongoing investigation and needs the Centre’s approval, the Supreme Court ordered the release of A G Perarivalan. This leaves the question of the other six convicts seeking premature release.

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