New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur in 1991 while campaigning in Tamil Nadu.
Many were subsequently arrested. Most of them were released after trial.
Seven people, including Murugan, Nalini and Perarivalan, were charged. All seven were initially sentenced to death. It was later commuted to life imprisonment.
Attempts were made during Jayalalithaa’s rule to release all seven. But not all attempts were successful because the federal government did not allow it.
Perarivalan, who has been serving a jail term of more than 30 years in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking stay of his sentence and release. The petition was heard by Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Kawai.
During the trial, the Tamil Nadu cabinet passed a resolution in 2018 to release all seven, including Perarivalan. But the Governor of Tamil Nadu has not taken any decision on that resolution for a long time. The Supreme Court judges expressed dissatisfaction that this was regrettable.
And the Governor is bound by the decision of the State Cabinet. The judges also commented that he could not act with a solitary perspective.
The judges also said that they would decide on the release of Perarivalan if they did not present any further legal arguments on behalf of the Central Government in the matter.
Last week, after all the arguments were over, the judges adjourned the case till date and directed the Central Government and the petitioner to file the final arguments in writing.
Accordingly, in a written argument filed by the Central Government, the Central Government has full power as the Central Government Intelligence Agency investigated the case. It was requested that only the President could make a decision at present as the Governor has made a recommendation in this regard.
In a written argument filed on behalf of Perarivalan, he said, ‘It is unconstitutional for the Governor to send to the President the decision passed by the Tamil Nadu Cabinet. Therefore, the Supreme Court should use its exclusive jurisdiction 142 to release Perarivalan.
The bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Kawai passed the order this morning.
The judges stated in their judgment
It is wrong for the Governor to delay the release of Perarivalan. Therefore, Perarivalan is released using Section 142. The State Government has certain powers under Section 161. They need to be taken into account. So we use our special power to liberate Perarivalan.
Thus the Supreme Court judges issued a sensational verdict.
The Supreme Court today delivered the most landmark verdict in the Rajiv murder case after 30 years. It is noteworthy that the efforts made by the Government of Tamil Nadu have been successful.
The Supreme Court judges have used their special powers to release Perarivalan without considering the position of the Central Government or the jurisdiction of the Governor of Tamil Nadu. This is a huge setback for the central government.
The apex court today issued the order despite repeated denials by the ruling Congress and BJP governments among Rajiv Gandhi murder prisoners. It is therefore said that there is an opportunity for the Central Government to file an appellate petition against this judgment of the Supreme Court.
However, the panel of judges of the Supreme Court has used its power to deliver a landmark judgment on legal grounds. Therefore, Murugan and Nalini, who are currently serving their sentences following Perarivalan, and 6 others have access to the Supreme Court through Perarivalan.