The Tamil Nadu government was asked by the Supreme Court to inform them whether a decision has been taken by it on a mercy petition of convict A G Perarivalan in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The apex court also pulled up the Centre for filing a similar status report on a probe done by a CBI-led Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) into unravelling a larger conspiracy behind the killing of the former prime minister.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta asked the state government to inform the court about the decision taken by it under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The article gives a governor the power to pardon a person who has been proved guilty in court.
The seven convicts in the case who are serving life imprisonment are AG Perarivalan, V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini Sriharan. The convicts include both Indians and Sri Lankans.
The former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber during an election rally at Sriperumpudur on May 21, 1991.
The apex court was hearing the plea of 46-year-old A G Perarivalan, who has sought suspension of his life sentence in the case till the MDMA’s probe is completed.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Perarivalan, said though the state has taken a decision on his mercy petition but his application is pending with the governor.
The MDMA was set up in 1998 on the recommendations of the Justice M C Jain Commission of Inquiry which had probed the conspiracy aspect of Gandhi’s assassination.
It is headed by a CBI official and comprises officers from the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing and the Revenue Intelligence, among other agencies.
The top court told the Centre: “Can you tell us what the difference (is) between the status report filed in April 2018 and November 2019. There is no difference at all.” “We have gone through all of your status reports filed in the case,” it said.
Earlier in November last year, Robert Payas and AG Perarivalan were released on a 30-day parole. Perarivalan was released on one month parole. He was released from Vellore Central prison as he had applied for parole to meet his ailing father and also to attend a family wedding.
The conditions of the parole include a bar on him interacting with the media, political parties or personalities and an undertaking to keep good conduct and not disrupt public peace. The petitioner had in his plea in September, submitted that he has been in prison since August 16, 1991, and has completed actual imprisonment of more than 28 years.
While, Nalini Sriharan and her husband V Sriharan alias Murugan had requested mercy killing. in December.
Nalini, who is lodged in the Special Prison for Women in Vellore for the last over 27 years, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madras High Court’s Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi demanding mercy killing, jail sources said.
Earlier this year, she had filed a petition in the Madras High Court seeking direction to Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to release all the seven convicts as per the decision of the Tamil Nadu government cabinet in 2018, recommending their release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
However, the High Court dismissed her petition as it couldn’t order the Governor to take action.