NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu Governor to consider the mercy petition of AG Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. It also disposed of the Centre's petition regarding the release of the convicts, filed by the Tamil Nadu government.
The Centre had on August 10 told the apex court that it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu government's proposal to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Centre had argued that remission of their sentence will set a "dangerous precedent" and have "international ramifications".
Perarivalan alias Arivu was charged with supplying a 9-volt battery which was allegedly used for the belt bomb that had killed Gandhi and 14 others.
He had on August 20 told the SC that no decision has been taken on his mercy petition filed before the Tamil Nadu Governor over two years ago. He had filed the mercy petition on December 30, 2015, saying he has suffered more than 24 years of solitary/single confinement.
"As per jail rules, life imprisonment at ground level is only for a maximum of 20 years and thereafter the prisoner is considered for release. Now I have already undergone more than life imprisonment. There will be no justification in keeping me behind bars even after 25 years of actual punishment when the investigation is itself pending," his letter had said.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber at an election rally. Fourteen others were also killed in the attack.
He had also claimed that the probe was not full-fledged and was incomplete and partial. "The main culprits who designed the bomb made of RDX were not nabbed till date. They are scot-free and investigation is still pending into the vital aspects of the crime itself," he had said in his letter to the Governor.
Convicts Perarivalan, V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santham, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, P Ravichandaran and Nalini have been in jail for 25 years.
On August 10, the Centre, while holding that it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu government's proposal to release the seven convicts, had said the case involved the assassination of a former prime minister in a brutal manner in pursuance of a "diabolical" plot carefully conceived and executed by a foreign terrorist organisation.
On January 23, the apex court had asked the Centre to take a decision within three months on a 2016 letter of the Tamil Nadu government written on March 2, 2016, seeking its concurrence on releasing the seven convicts. The apex court had on February 18, 2014, commuted the death sentence of three convicts - Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan - citing inordinate delay by the executive in deciding their mercy plea.