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Supreme Court Extends Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convict's Parole By A Week; Directs TN To Provide Escort For Medical Checks

Radhika Roy
23 Nov 2020 6:48 AM GMT
Supreme Court Extends Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convicts Parole By A Week; Directs TN To Provide Escort For Medical Checks
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Supreme Court on Monday extended the parole by a week of AG Perarivalan, a convict in the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and has directed State of Tamil Nadu to provide an escort for his medical checks. A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao heard the submissions of Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan who requested the Court to direct the...

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Supreme Court on Monday extended the parole by a week of AG Perarivalan, a convict in the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and has directed State of Tamil Nadu to provide an escort for his medical checks. 

A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao heard the submissions of Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan who requested the Court to direct the State to extend the parole of Perarivalan by a week.

"Parole was given on November 9. This was extended by Madras High Court to November 23. He has also requested for police escort for medical exams. If the State can grant parole for another week…", stated Sankaranarayanan.

Justice Rao responded that the Court could extend the parole for and order that an escort be provided so that Perarivalan could visit the hospital.

"We will hear the matter on the next date for final disposal. Parole is extended for a week and Tamil Nadu is directed to provide escort to him for medical checks", ordered the Supreme Court.

In the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had orally expressed unhappiness over the fact that the recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu State Government for the remission of the sentence of A G Perarivalan, had been pending before the Governor for over two years.

"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 Sankaranarayanan, 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 Bench asked Sankaranarayanan to present before the Bench the precedents where the Courts have issued directions to the Governor.

Justice Rao referred to the 2014 judgment in Shatrughan Chauhan case, where the Supreme Court stated that mercy petitions have to be decided in a time-bound manner, and also the cases where the courts have requested the Governor to take decisions on matters pertaining to Assembly.

Sankararayanan referred to the Nilofer Nisha judgment of the Supreme Court, where he said the Court exercised powers under Article 142 to order the release of prisoners in Tamil Nadu who were covered under the same remission notification which dealt with Perarivalan as well. The Governor is bound by the recommendation of the State Government, the Senior Counsel submitted.

The Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu, Balaji Srinivasan, informed the Bench that the Governor had 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.

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