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Rajiv Gandhi assassination: SC issues notice on pleas by Nalini, Ravichandran seeking release

Citing the release of convict A.G. Perarivalan in the same case, both convicts, who are serving life imprisonment, have moved the apex court seeking their release from the prison.

IANS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government on the petitions of S. Nalini and R.P. Ravichandran, convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Citing the release of convict A.G. Perarivalan in the same case, both convicts, who are serving life imprisonment, have moved the apex court seeking their release from the prison.

A bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna sought a response from the Tamil Nadu and Central government on the pleas. “Notice. Liberty granted to serve standing counsel of Tamil Nadu and Union of India…,” said the top court, in its order, while scheduling the matter for hearing on October 14.

Nalini and Ravichandran had moved the Madras High Court citing Perarivalan’s release, however the high court refused to entertain their plea seeking release from the prison. They moved the apex court challenging the high court order.

The high court had said that it cannot exercise powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to pass a similar order, which was passed by the apex court to release another accused, A.G. Perarivalan, in the case. “The directions sought by the petitioner cannot be given by the court, as it otherwise does not have power similar to what the apex court has under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. For the foregoing reasons, the writ petition is dismissed as not maintainable,” said the high court in an order passed in June.

On May 18, the Supreme Court invoked its extraordinary powers to do complete justice under Article 142 of the Constitution, as it ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan, sentenced to life in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao (retired now), B.R. Gavai, and A.S. Bopanna said: “In the exceptional facts and circumstances of this case, in exercise of our power under Article 142 of the Constitution, we direct that the Appellant is deemed to have served the sentence in connection with crime… The Appellant, who is on bail, is set at liberty forthwith.” Perarivalan is currently on bail. His death sentence was commuted to life sentence and terrorism charges were withdrawn.

The top court took into account Perarivalan’s prolonged period of incarceration, his satisfactory conduct in jail as well as during parole, chronic ailments from his medical records, his educational qualifications acquired during incarceration and the pendency of his petition under Article 161 for two-and-a-half years after the recommendation of the state cabinet.