Supreme Court orders release of A G Perarivalan, convict in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case [18.5.2022]

New Delhi, Wednesday, 18.5.2022

The Supreme Court Wednesday ordered the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict A G Perarivalan, exercising its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai said that the Tamil Nadu Cabinet had in September 2018 recommended his release to the Governor taking into account relevant considerations.

Article 142 enables the court to pass orders to do complete justice in a case.

It 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.

In his plea, Perarivalan had said the Governor was yet to take a call on a recommendation by the state government on September 9, 2018, to grant him remission and release him forthwith.

As the hearing in the Supreme Court proceeded, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Governor after considering all facts on record and perusing all relevant documents had recorded that the “President is the appropriate competent authority to deal with the…request”.

Perarivalan, however, contended that he had already spent 30 years in jail and that the Governor’s decision must be placed on record.

Arrested at the age of 19, Perarivalan was sentenced to death in May 1999 after being convicted for purchasing the 8-volt battery that was used by the assassins to trigger the belt bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 2014, his sentence and that of two others, Murugan and Santhan (both Sri Lankans), was commuted to life citing the long pendency of their mercy petitions. Soon after, the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu had ordered the release of all the seven convicts in the case.

19 May 2022