The CBI has informed the Supreme Court that convict A.G. Perarivalan has nothing to do with the further investigation conducted by its Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) into the "larger conspiracy" behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
"We do not want to exercise jurisdiction. But we are not happy with how this recommendation has been pending before the Governor for 2 years", observed Justice L Nageswara Rao, the presiding judge of the bench.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Hemant Gupta, was hearing the petition filed by Perarivalan seeking release from the prison based on the recommendation made by the State Government.
Senior Advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan, appearing for the Perarivalan, submitted that though the State Government had recommended the release of Perarivalan after remitting his life sentence, the Governor has not yet acted on it for over two years.
At this juncture, Justice Rao asked if the Court can direct the Governor, a constitutional authority, to make a decision under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu, Balaji Srinivasan, informed the bench that the Governor has taken a stand that he cannot take a decision without receiving the report of Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency which is looking into the angle of 'larger conspiracy' behind the case. The CBI has to furnish the report to the Governor on the 'larger conspiracy' angle, the AAG submitted.
The Additional Solicitor General of India, K M Nataraj, told the bench that the investigation on the angle of 'larger conspiracy' was spread over foreign countries such as United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and that the CBI was waiting for replies to the rogatory letters sent to foreign jurisdictions.
At this juncture, Justice Nageswara Rao told that the probe into "larger conspiracy" was related to some other persons who may be involved behind the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and that it was not related to persons who have already been convicted and been spending time in jail for past 28 years.
"Larger conspiracy probe is pending for 20 years. Still, you are at the stage of getting replies of rogatory letters from UK/Bangkok!", Justice Rao remarked.
The bench then proceeded to list the matter for hearing on November 23. Counsels have been given the liberty to file additional documents and inform the Bench about judgments which allow the Supreme Court to give directions to the Governor.
Perarivalan was awarded death penalty in 1991 for conspiracy behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after being charged with providing a 9-volt battery for the explosive device to assassination conspirator Sivarasan. In 2014, the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of Perarivalan and two other convicts who had spent over twenty years in death row in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life sentence on the ground of inordinate delay in deciding their mercy petitions.
In September 2018, the Government of Tamil Nadu announced its decision to release him along with six other convicts.