New Delhi: One of the LTTE members convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, AG Perarivalan, will be released after 31 years. The Supreme Court said the decision was taken based on relevant considerations and in the exercise of Article 142.
The Centre was opposed to his release from jail and noted that the Tamil Nadu Governor referred the matter to President Ram Nath Kovind.
Perarivalan was 19 at the time of the assassination. He was accused of buying the two 9-volt batteries for Sivarasan, the mastermind of the crime. The batteries were used in the bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
He was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 1998, but the Supreme Court commuted it to life imprisonment in 2014. The court had also granted him bail in March 2022. Perarivalan sought an early release from jail after receiving bail.
He had claimed all along that he wasn't aware of the purpose of the batteries. During the time he spent in jail, he earned several academic qualifications and wrote a book. A retired CBI officer had apologised for altering Perarivalan's confessional statement. The convict has a very good conduct record in jail.
President Kovind hasn't decided on Perarivalan's plea yet, and the Supreme Court questioned the delay as well as the Governor's action. The top court said the Governor is bound by the cabinet decision to grant pardon to all seven convicts in the case under Section 161, reported NDTV. The verdict to release Perarivalan may lead to the release of the other six convicts in the case.
The Centre last week argued that only the President has the power to grant mercy. The statement was criticised, and the court pointed out that this would mean the mercies granted by Governors all these years would be unconstitutional.