The Supreme Court of India will pass orders today on a plea seeking the release of AG Perarivalan, one of the life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who has been behind bars for 31 years.
A favourable verdict will pave way for the release of other six convicts in the case including Nalini Sriharan and her husband Murugan, a Sri Lankan national.
Nineteen years old at the time of the assassination, Perarivalan was accused of buying the two 9-volt batteries for Sivarasan, the LTTE man who masterminded the assassination. The batteries were used in the bomb to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.
Perarivalan was sentenced to death by a TADA court in 1998. The next year, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence but commuted it to life imprisonment in 2014. In March this year, the top court had granted him bail.
Shortly after, Perarivalan had appealed seeking an early release from jail.
The Centre had opposed Perarivalan’s plea, saying Tamil Nadu Governor had referred the matter to President Ram Nath Kovind, who is yet to take a call on it.
The top court had questioned the delay in the matter and the Governor’s action.
The court had observed that the Tamil Nadu Governor is bound by the cabinet decision to release all seven convicts in the case, granting them pardon under Section 161 of the Constitution, and hence it would not wait for the President’s response though the Governor had forward the file to the President’s Office.
In the hearing last week, the Centre drew flak from the court over its argument that in cases of grant of mercy, only the President would have exclusive powers.