SC expresses unhappiness with TN Governor over Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict’s pending remission plea

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed unhappiness over the Tamil Nadu Governor for not taking a decision for over two years on the remission plea of AG Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao asked the Tamil Nadu government to request the State Governor to expedite his decision on the State’s recommendations for the remission of sentence of the convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

“We don’t want to exercise our jurisdiction, but we are not happy with how this recommendation has been pending for two years. Tell us what the law and cases are which can allow us to do it. We want the Governor to pass orders,” the bench observed when it was informed that the matter is still pending before the Governor.

During the hearing, the bench asked Tamil Nadu’s Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan, “Why is the Governor taking so much time? Can’t you tell him?”

Srinivasan said this is a case of a larger conspiracy and the Governor is waiting for a report from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Additional Solicitor General KN Nataraj told the bench that the investigation on the angle of a larger conspiracy was spread over foreign countries such as United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and that the CBI was waiting for replies to the rogatory letters sent to foreign jurisdictions.

To this, Justice Rao said larger conspiracy only deals with whether other persons are involved, not for the person already convicted.

“Larger conspiracy probe is pending for 20 years. Still, you are at the stage of getting replies of rogatory letters from UK, Bangkok,” said the court.

Allowing the parties to file additional documents and also case laws to show how the Supreme Court can give directions to the Governor, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 23.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during an election rally in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumpudur on the night of May 21, 1991.

The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Perarivalan seeking release from the prison based on the recommendation made by the Tamil Nadu government. On February 18, 2014, the apex court had commuted the death sentence of Perarivalan to life imprisonment on grounds of a delay of 11 years in deciding the mercy pleas by the Centre.

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