Rajiv Gandhi AG Perarivalan set free

Last week, the Supreme Court of India, exercising its powers under article 142 of the Indian Constitution, ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, a convict who had helped making the bomb which killed Rajiv Gandh.

A three judges bench of Justices L Nageswara RaoBR Gavai and AS Bopanna exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to order Perarivalan’s release after noting that there was considerable delay by the Governor of Tamil Nadu in deciding the convict’s plea for remission under Article 161.

Sentenced to death when he was just 19, AG Perarivalan had spent over 30 years in jail until the Supreme Court released him on bail in February 2022.

At the time of his release, his plea for remission of his sentence was pending before the apex court.

In 2018, the Tamil Nadu state cabinet had made a recommendation for the same but the office of the Governor of Tamil Nadu slept on it.

It was only when the Supreme Court of India began looking into the matter that the Governor forwarded the matter to the President’s office.

A resolution was passed by the Tamil Nadu Cabinet on 09.09.2018, recommending the release of the Appellant, which was sent to the Governor. On 11.02.2020, this Court directed the Additional Advocate General for the State of Tamil Nadu to get instructions on the status of the recommendation of the Council of Ministers to the Governor.

Once nudged by the apex court, the Governor on 25.01.2021, without any clear legal precedent, decided to send the matter to the President of India deeming it to be the appropriate authority to take a decision.

While the lawyers were arguing over the correctness or otherwise of the Governor’s handling, first sleeping over it for more than two and a half years and then handballing it to the President, the apex court lost patience and decided to take Suo moto cognizance of the matter and set the AG Perarivalan free.

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Peculiar case of unexplainable idiosyncrasies:

On the one hand multiple mercy petitions filed by the convict AG Perarivalan, during the Congress rule at the centre, were vehemently opposed by the government lawyers.

On the other, the family of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka – all Gandhis openly and publicly offered forgiveness to the assassins and made sure the media carried the news.

And now, when the Supreme Court decided it was judiciously just to set AG Perarivalan free, the Congress again is – hurt and pained.

The Congress says the Supreme Court has released the convict because of ‘inaction’ of the then Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit (now in Punjab Raj Bhavan) and President of India in rejecting “AIADMK-BJP state government’s” 2018 recommendation.

Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “we are deeply saddened by the decision of the Supreme Court. If those guilty of terrorism and assassination of a former prime minister are going to be released like this, then who will uphold the majesty and integrity of law in this country? Secondly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government need to answer today: Is this your duplicity and doublespeak on terrorism? Are you going to be complicit in the release of terrorist and murders of the former prime minister of this country? By silence, is it acquiescence by silence, that a nominee of the Centre (governor) does not take a call to reject such a decision of the cabinet of the state of Tamil Nadu? He, instead, refers it to the President of India and the President of India does not decide either. So by default, you are permitting terrorists and murders of Rajiv Gandhi to be released. Is this nationalism? Is this the duty you owe to the country? Is this the way you are going to deal with people who are guilty of the murder of a former prime minister of India? This has exposed the deep-rooted prejudice that prevails in the mind and psyche of the prime minister and his government. It is reprehensible and condemnable.”

On the family having pardoned them, he responded: “… while the family, Rahulji, Priyankaji and Soniaji may harbour no ill-will (for the accused) for they believe in the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha and in the years’ of long tradition of this country to pardon anybody who has harmed you and given the worst wound, but that does not change the law and the Constitution of the country. And the responsibility to implement the law of the land was that of PM Narendra Modi. Despite our differences with him, we didn’t expect that a nominee of the Modi government would commit inaction and that will lead to the terrorists who committed the murder of a former prime minister to be set free.”

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