Supreme Court has granted bail to the AG Perarivalan who was convicted in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case. He has been serving a life sentence and is in jail for over 30 years.
“Taking into account the fact that the applicant has spent over 30 years in prison, we are of the considered view that he is entitled to be released on bail, inspite of the vehement opposition by the Centre,” the bench said.
The apex court bench comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai has granted him bail in a special leave petition filed by Perarivalan in 2016. The SLP was filed challenging Madras High Court order refusing to entertain his plea for the commutation of sentence.
The bench stated that bail will be subject to the satisfaction of the trial court’s conditions. He is not allowed to leave his native village Jholarpetai and will have to report to local police during the first week of every Monday.
The petition has been kept pending to decide the larger issue by the appropriate authority – Governor or President – who are going to decide the matter of remission.
The bench observed that Perarivalan is on parole at present and he has been granted parole earlier thrice. The top court went on to add that there are sufficient materials produced to show the acquisition of educational qualifications and skill set by him during the incarceration and his ill-health.
Centre opposed his plea stating, “In case of offences to which the executive power of the Union extends, it is the Centre which is entitled to decide on plea for release.”
It was contended that Perarivalan has already availed the benefit of reduction of death sentence to life term by citing a delay in deciding his mercy plea and cannot claim more benefit.
To which the Supreme Court bench replied, “In view of the stand taken by the Union of India that the state government does not have the power to entertain the application especially after the sentence of death imposed on the has been reduced to life, the matter will have to be decided finally. Sufficient material has been produced by the applicant to prove his conduct during the long incarceration, acquisition of degrees and ill health.”
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 a poll rally. Fourteen people had died during the incident.
Perarivalan was arrested at the age of 19 in connection to Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case. He was accused of purchasing the 8-volt battery used to trigger the belt bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
He and three others were sentenced to death in May 1999. In 2014, his sentence and that of two others including Murugan and Santhan (both Sri Lankans), was commuted to life from death over long pendency of their mercy petitions.