SC orders release of six convicts in ‘Rajiv Gandhi’ assassination case

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SC orders release of six convicts

The Supreme Court on 11 November 2022 ordered the release of six convicted person serving life imprisonment for their role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In the present case Nalin and Ravichandran had moved the Supreme Court to challenge the Madras High Court order of 17 June 2022 which rejected their plea for early release from Jail.

The six convicts Nalini, her husband Murugan alias Sriharan, Ravichandran, Jayakumar, Robert Pais, and Santhan were initially sentenced to death by  special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court In 1998 However, their death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court held that the judgment of the Supreme Court in the A G Perarivalan case was applicable to this case also. 

A.G. Perarivalan who was also convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was released on 11 May 2022 by a two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B. R. Gavai invoking article 142 of the constitution. The Supreme Court cited inordinate delay by the Tamil Nadu Governor in deciding Perarivalan early release plea after the state government had recommended his release way back in 2018.

Under article 142 of the constitution the Supreme Court has the power to pass an order or decree for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.

A.G. Perarivalan case 

  • In 2015 A.G. Perarivalan filed a mercy petition before the governor of Tamilnadu.
  • Under article 161 the governor of a state has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.
  • In 2018 the Tamilnadu government headed by Chief Minister  Edappadi K Palaniswami recommended the governor to release Perarivalan ,
  • In 2021 Perarivalan approached the Supreme Court after the Governor failed to act on his mercy petition. 

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991, during an election campaign at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. The woman assassin, Dhanu, triggered a belt bomb to kill Gandhi and 16 other people.

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