NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that it was not happy with how the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu government for remission of the sentence of AG Perarivalan, convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has been pending with the Governor for over two years.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Ajay Rastogi and Hemant Gupta asked the Additional Advocate General for Tamil Nadu, Balaji Srinivasan, to find out why the State’s Governor Banwarilal Purohit had yet to decide on the recommendation of the state government.
Srinivasan informed the Court that the matter before the Governor was that of a larger conspiracy, and that he was awaiting a report from the CBI. Additional Solicitor General for India, K N Nataraj, told the court that the investigation on the angle of a larger conspiracy was spread over the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka, and that the CBI was waiting for replies to its letters rogatory.
To this, Justice Rao said, "The larger conspiracy probe is pending for 20 years and going on. Still, you are at the stage of getting replies of rogatory letters from the UK etc?"
“We don't want to exercise jurisdiction, but we are not happy with how the recommendation has been pending before the Governor for two years,” the bench added.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan cited the Nilofer Nisha case, which is related to the same remission notification, wherein the court has exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to release the prisoners.
Sankaranarayanan further stated that grant of remission was the prerogative of the Governor and is not under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Perarivalan was awarded the death penalty in 1991 for his involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was charged for providing a 9-volt battery to co-conspirator Sivarasan for the explosive device used to kill Gandhi.
After he spent 20 years on death row, the Supreme Court commuted Perarivalan's death penalty to life imprisonment in February 2014.