By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 18, May 2022, 12:16 pm IST | UPDATED: 18, May 2022, 12:16 pm IST
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 18) ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts serving life imprisonment in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Last week, the apex court had reserved its judgement on the plea filed by Perarivalan seeking premature release from jail based on the recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu government in September 2018. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai had reserved the verdict after hearing arguments from the counsels appearing for Perarivalan, Tamil Nadu and State`s Governor.
Earlier, the SC bench had disagreed with the Central government`s suggestion that the court should wait till the President`s decision on the mercy plea of Perarivalan, said an ANI report.
The apex court reportedly had disapproved of the Governor`s action of sending the mercy plea of Perarivalan to the President saying it cannot shut its eyes to something against the Constitution, adding that the Tamil Nadu Governor was bound by the aid and advice given by the Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers under Article 161 of the Constitution, on the release of AG Perarivalan.
"We will pass the order to release him from jail as you are not ready to argue the case on merits. We cannot shut our eyes to something that is happening against the Constitution and will have to go by the Bible which is the Constitution. There is nobody above law. There are certain powers conferred to dignitaries, but the working of the Constitution should not come to a grinding halt," ANI report quoted the bench as saying.
Appearing for Perarivalan, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan had said that every time the Governor came up with an "excuse" not to decide the issue.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to clarify its position on the release of AG Perarivalan and also pulled it up saying that it "will release" Perarivalan if the government does not take a stand on the convict`s mercy plea within a week.
On March 9, the top court granted bail to Perarivalan while taking into consideration his conduct, ill health and the fact that he has spent more than 30 years in prison, noting that there were no complaints about his conduct when he was released thrice before on parole.
Perarivalan was ordered to be released on bail for the first time since when he was arrested. The apex court had granted bail to Perarivalan despite the Centre opposing his bail plea vehemently.
Perarivalan had approached the top court seeking release from the prison based on the recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu government in September 2018.
The central government had earlier apprised the apex court that the Tamil Nadu Governor, after considering all the facts on record and relevant documents, said that the President of India is the "appropriate competent authority" to deal with the pardon plea of Perarivalan.
In its January 21, 2021 order, the top court had asked the Governor to decide the Perarivalan`s remission of sentence plea. It had earlier expressed unhappiness over the fact that the recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu State government for the remission of the sentence had been pending before the Governor.
Former PM Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991, at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at an election rally.
On February 18, 2014, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of Perarivalan to life imprisonment on grounds of a delay of 11 years in deciding the mercy pleas by the Centre.