Thursday, August 11, 2022

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case: SC asks Centre to clarify its stand on the release of AG Perarivalan

Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Centre to clarify its position on AG Perarivalan’s release, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the death of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

A bench led by Justice L Nageswara Rao further asked the Central government, stating that if the government does not respond to Perarivalan’s mercy request within a week, it “shall free” him. “He’s already served 36 years in prison, so why don’t we let him go?” the bench reasoned.

The Apex Court also took issue with the Governor of Tamil Nadu’s decision to sit on the Cabinet’s release recommendation for more than three and a half years before transmitting it to the President.

Centre’s Additional Solicitor General, KM Nataraj, was told by the supreme court bench, “Why don’t you simply agree to let him go? People who have served for more than 20 years are eligible for release… We also provide you with an escape path. Your claim that the Governor lacks the authority to decide on the mercy plea under Article 161 strikes at the heart of the Constitution’s federal system… Which provision allows the Governor to appeal the State Cabinet’s decision to the President? “

SC also stated, “If the Governor disagrees with the State Cabinet’s decision to free him, he should return it to the Cabinet rather than forwarding it to the President, who is bound by the Centre’s help and advice… That is not a simple task. We believe the Governor’s conduct is unconstitutional, and you are arguing against the Constitution “

However, the case has been rescheduled for a hearing on May 4.

Perarivalan was granted bail on March 9 by the Supreme Court, which took into account his behavior, ill health, and the fact that he had spent more than 30 years in prison.

When he was freed on parole three times earlier, the bench noted that there were no complaints about his behavior.

For the first time since his detention, Perarivalan was ordered to be released on bail.

The bench noted that the Governor has yet to rule on Perarivalan’s request for release from prison.

Despite the Centre’s vigorous opposition to Perarivalan’s bail request, the apex court granted him bail.

Perarivalan had petitioned the Supreme Court for his release from prison, citing the Tamil Nadu government’s recommendation dated September 2018.

Central government had previously informed the Supreme Court that the Tamil Nadu Governor had stated that the President of India is the “proper competent authority” to deal with Perarivalan’s pardon request after reviewing all the facts on record and relevant documents.

By order dated January 21, 2021, the Supreme Court directed the Governor to deliberate on Perarivalan’s remission of sentence plea.

It had previously voiced dissatisfaction with the fact that the state government of Tamil Nadu’s recommendation for the remission of the sentence had been pending before the Governor for more than two years.

Gandhi was slain at a poll rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, on the night of May 21, 1991, by a female suicide bomber known as Dhanu.

On February 18, 2014, the Supreme Court modified Perarivalan’s death sentence to life imprisonment, citing the Centre’s 11-year delay in deciding mercy petitions.

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