New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its disapproval over the pendency of pardon plea of a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case for more than two years with the Tamil Nadu Governor.
A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Ajay Rastogi and Hemant Gupta asked Additional Advocate General for Tamil Nadu Balaji Srinivasan, why the Governor is taking so much time? Justice Rao noted that the larger conspiracy only deals with whether other persons are involved in the case. "What about Constitution bench judgement which allows the Supreme Court to intervene", said Justice Rao.
The bench emphasised that it does not intend to exercise its jurisdiction, but it is not happy with the pendency of this matter for over two years.
The remarks from the bench were made during the hearing of a plea of 46-year-old A.G. Perarivalan, who has sought suspension of his life sentence in the case till the CBI-led Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) probe is completed.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan, representing Perarivalan, submitted before the bench that after the top court's orders, the remission file is still pending after the recommendation of the state government and his client has no option but to approach this court again.
The bench told Sankaranarayan that the Governor has to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. "But if the Governor does not pass order, what can the court do, you tell us," noted the bench, while asking him to find out what are the laws applicable in this matter.
Justice Rao cited the 2014 judgment in the Shatrughan Chauhan case, wherein the Supreme Court held that mercy petitions have to be decided in a time-bound manner.
The bench told Additional Solicitor General K. M. Natraj, representing the Centre, that the larger conspiracy probe is pending for almost 20 years and the Centre says it is in the middle of a process of getting response for Letter Rogatories (letters of request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance) sent to various countries.
Nataraj added that larger conspiracy probe is on-going and it is spread over in countries like the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
The bench asked Nataraj to look into the matter and posted the matter for further hearing on November 23.
The state government had informed the top court the Cabinet, through a resolution on September 9, 2018, had recommended to the Governor for the premature release of all seven convicts in the case. In January, this year, the top court had asked the state government to inform whether a decision has been taken on the pardon petition of a convict.
In 1991, Perarivalan was awarded the death penalty for his involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Supreme Court commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment in February 2014.