Despite opposition, SC grants bail to Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict

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

A bench comprising 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 the 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. The bench queried Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, what is the role of the Governor in sending the remission plea to the President? Does the Governor have any independent discretion in a decision taken by the state cabinet? The bench noted that there is sufficient material on record in connection with his conduct during the imprisonment, along with his educational qualifications.

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In February, last year, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had informed the Supreme Court that the Tamil Nadu Governor has recorded that the President of India is the competent authority to deal with the pardon plea of A.G. Perarivalan, one of the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

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

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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