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Perarivalan, convicted for conspiring to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, gets bail

Perarivalan was arrested at the age of 19 and sentenced to death in May 1999 for procuring the 9-volt battery used to trigger the belt bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi

The today granted bail to Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict AG Perarivalan after considering for some time whether it should give this bail, given that the governor was yet to decide on his plea seeking release from prison.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao and comprising Justice BR Gavai said, “Since he has already undergone sentence for more than 30 years, we are of the considered view that he is entitled to bail in spite of the vehement opposition by Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj.”

The bench noted that there was no dispute about Perarivalan having undergone 32 years of imprisonment and that the court was informed he was released on parole twice earlier and there has been no complaint.

Perarivalan had said that the governor was yet to take a decision on his prayer for remission and that the delay was a ground for bail.

Opposing his plea, the union government had stated that the president was the appropriate authority to decide Perarivalan’s request. “In case of offences to which the power of the Union extends, it is the union government which is entitled to decide on plea for release,” it said. It also argued that Perarivalan had already availed the benefit of reduction of death sentence to life term by citing a delay in deciding his mercy plea and that he cannot claim more benefit by citing another delay.

On this, the said, “In view of the stand taken by the Union of India that the state government does not have the power to entertain the especially after the sentence of death imposed on the convict has been reduced to life, the matter will have to be decided finally”. It further said that “sufficient material has been produced by the applicant to prove his conduct during the long incarceration, acquisition of degrees and ill health.”

Arrested at the age of 19 in the case, Perarivalan was sentenced to death in May 1999. He was accused of purchasing the 9-volt battery used to trigger the belt bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 2014, his sentence and that of two others, Murugan and Santhan (both Sri Lankans), was commuted to life over the long pendency of their mercy petitions. Soon after, the government in Tamil Nadu had ordered the release of all the seven convicts in the case.

While a pardon request moved by Perarivalan in 2015 was not considered by the Governor, a order on a related petition in September 2018 clarified that the Governor was “deemed fit” to decide on the pardon. Within three days, the government had recommended that all seven convicts be released.

The Tamil Nadu government had on 9 September 2018 made a recommendation to the state governor for the premature release of Perarivalan and six other convicts in the case.

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