SC grants bail to Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict despite Centre’s opposition

The Supreme Court Of India (File Photo | IANS)

The Supreme Court Of India (File Photo | IANS)

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to A.G. Perarivalan, who was convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, noting that he has already spent more than 30 years behind the bars.

A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai said: “Taking into account, the appellant has spent more than 30 years of incarceration, he is entitled to be released on bail despite vehement opposition of the Additional Solicitor General (representing the Centre), the appellant is directed to be released on bail.”

During the hearing, the bench noted that the decision on Perarivalan’s mercy petition had been delayed, and he had already undergone more than 30 years of imprisonment. It queried Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, representing the Centre, what is the role of the Governor in sending the remission plea to the President, and does the Governor have any independent discretion in a decision taken by the state cabinet.


The bench also noted that there is sufficient material on record in connection with his conduct during imprisonment, along with his educational qualifications.

Perarivalan was represented by senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan in the apex court. He informed the court that his client was released on parole thrice and there was no complaint regarding his conduct.

The bench also noted the Central government’s submissions that the state government does not have power to take a stand on mercy petition, especially when the death was commuted to life.

Nataraj, opposing bail to Perarivalan, submitted that he has already availed the benefit of a mercy petition once, and his death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the top court in 2014, against the backdrop of delay in considering the mercy petition. He added that his remission application has been submitted before the Governor who, in turn, said the competent authority to decide is the President.


Granting bail to Perarivalan, the bench said it will be subject to the satisfaction of the trial court’s conditions and directed him to report to the local police, during the first week of every month.

In February last year, the Union Home Ministry had informed the Supreme Court that the Tamil Nadu Governor has recorded that the President is the competent authority to deal with the pardon plea of Perarivalan.

Parole to Perarivalan, who has been in jail since his arrest in 1991, was granted and extended by the Tamil Nadu government periodically.

In 2014, the top court had commuted his death penalty, for aiding in making the bomb, which killed Rajiv Gandhi, to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding their mercy petitions.

On various occasions, the Supreme Court had expressed its dissatisfaction over the pendency of the pardon plea of Perarivalan for over two years with the Tamil Nadu Governor. Perarivalan had moved the top court seeking premature release and remit of his sentence. He had also cited the recommendation made by the state government in 2018 for his release.


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