Pinnacle Court adjourns case of Late PM Rajiv Gandhi convict Perarivalan s plea for early release

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The top court  scheduled for January a hearing on a plea by Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict, A.G. Perarivalan, for his early release. The cardinal question raised in court is about the Tamil Nadu Governor’s decision to refrain from taking an independent decision on the release of Perarivalan. The Governor had referred Perarivalan’s case for release to the President. This was despite the fact that the Council of Ministers of Government of Tamil Nadu had recommended his release way back on September 9, 2018. The counsel for AG Perarivalan, who is serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the decision taken by the Tamil Nadu Governor on the recommendation made by the State Government to release him from prison must be placed on record. The Supreme Court today adjourned the plea filed by AG Perarivalan seeking release from the prison based on the recommendation made by the State Government in September 2018 for January. The petition pertaining to the premature release was filed back in 2016 by 46-year-old AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts who asked for suspension of his life sentence in the case till the CBI-led Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) completes its probe on the aspect of a larger conspiracy behind the assassination of the former prime minister. At the hearing of the case last year, the Supreme Court sought to know the current status of a recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu cabinet to the state's governor in September 2018 to release all the convicts under powers granted by Article 161 of the Constitution. Notably, the aforementioned article empowers a governor to pardon a convict in any criminal case. In its reply, the state government had said that the governor was waiting for the final report of the MDMA before taking a decision. Later, at a hearing on January 21 last year, the government further informed that the governor would be taking a call on the remittance petition filed by Perarivalan. However, a month later, the Union home ministry said the governor had studied all the reports available to him and recommended that the President of India would be the appropriate authority to deal with the request of premature release. In April 2000, the Tamil Nadu governor had commuted the death sentence of Nalini on the basis of the state government's recommendation and an appeal by former Congress president and Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia Gandhi. On February 18, 2014, the top court had commuted the death sentence of Perarivalan to life imprisonment, along with that of two other prisoners – Santhan and Murugan – on the grounds of an 11-year delay in deciding their mercy pleas by the central government. Perarivalan has already spent three decades in jail.