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Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case: A G Perarivalan should have been released much earlier, says Ex-SC judge 

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case: A G Perarivalan should have been released much earlier, says Ex-SC judge 

Published:19 May 2022

A G Perarivalan, one of the conspirators in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, ought to have been released much earlier, former Supreme Court judge Justice K T Thomas said.

Thiruvananthapuram | A G Perarivalan, one of the conspirators in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, ought to have been released much earlier, former Supreme Court judge Justice K T Thomas said on Thursday.
Invoking its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court had on Wednesday ordered the release of Perarivalan, who has served over 30 years in jail in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, and said the Tamil Nadu Governor ought not to have sent the "binding" advice made by the State Cabinet for his release to the President.
Justice Thomas, who headed the apex court bench which in 1999 upheld the death sentence of Perarivalan and three others, told PTI that the convicted accused ought to have been granted remission after they served 14 years in jail.
"Now it is 30 years. He (Perarivalan) should have been released much earlier. After he served 14 years," the former apex court judge said, adding that the relief now granted to him should also apply to the other convicts in the case.
"Why should there be a discrimination between them," he said.
Justice Thomas said that he had written a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in 2017 requesting her to write a letter to the President for remitting the sentence of Perarivalan and others.
"I did not make the request for Perarivalan alone. I made it for all of them. I sent the letter requesting Sonia Gandhi to consider their premature release. I told her that a letter from her to the President would be more moving than from anybody else.
"I sent a letter. That is all. She did not give me a reply. I expected a reply from her, but she did not reply," he said.
On being asked what was it about the case which prompted him to send the letter and whether any one from the convicts' families approached him, Justice Thomas said that "nobody from their families met him or contacted him through anybody".
"It (the 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi) was a rare case, where due to one bomb several persons died. The assassin herself died. The other convicted accused, including Perarivalan, were involved in the conspiracy. Similarly in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, Nathuram Godse was the assassin and Gopal Godse was involved in the conspiracy.
"The central government had released Gopal Godse after he served 14 years. The same thing could have been done in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case. That is what I said in my letter to Sonia Gandhi," he further said.
When asked why he wanted to meet Perarivalan, Justice Thomas said, "I have not seen him." He said that usually in trial courts, the judges get to see the accused, but in the apex we do not get to see the accused.
"I had not seen him. We only had the case records with us" and that is why he wanted to meet him, the former apex court judge said.
He further said that it was his personal advice to Perarivalan to "get married and have a family" as he was denied that for all those years he was in jail.
On being asked how he thinks the families of the other victims, who died in the assassination, would react to his statements regarding Perarivalan, Justice Thomas said, "I am only expressing my opinion. My opinion would be different from that of the victims' families or relatives. I can view it dispassionately".
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991, at a poll rally in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu. Fourteen others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.
Gandhi's assassination was probably the first case in the country of suicide bombing which had claimed the life of a high-profile leader.
In its May 1999 order, the top court had upheld the death sentence of four convicts -- Perarivalan, Murugan, Santham, and Nalini.
In April 2000, the Tamil Nadu governor 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 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 Centre.


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