Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Tamil Nadu cabinet accepts mercy plea of 7 convicts, to recommend release to governor

The Tamil Nadu cabinet on Sunday accepted the mercy petition of seven convicts in the case of the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Speaking after the cabinet meeting in Chennai, state minister D Jayakumar said they would send the recommendation on their release to Governor of Tamil Nadu Banwarilal Purohit immediately.

A resolution to this effect was adopted at the state cabinet which met under Chief Minister K Palaniswami's leadership, Jayakumar told reporters. It decided to recommend to Governor Purohit the release of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini, who are serving life imprisonment.

Arputhammal, mother of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict AG Perarivalan, speaking to ANI, said, "I met the Tamil Nadu chief minister today and he assured me that the governor would surely accept our recommendation and very soon all seven convicts will be free. We thank this government which has paved the way for the release."


Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near Chennai by an LTTE woman suicide bomber, Dhanu, at an election rally. Reuters

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near Chennai by an LTTE woman suicide bomber, Dhanu, at an election rally. Reuters

Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, earlier forwarded a petition to the Tamil Nadu home secretary, urging the government to consider her plea for early release. The plea comes just days after the Supreme Court asked the Tamil Nadu governor to consider the mercy petition of AG Perarivalan, another convict in the 1991 case. A life convict at the Special Prison for Women in Vellore, Nalini in her petition recalled that she had made a representation on 22 February, 2014, to the government, seeking her release under Article 161 of the Constitution, which deals with the judicial powers of the governor of a state.

Her plea for release was in accordance with the state government's 1994 Scheme of Premature Release of Life Convicts, she said. In her petition, which she forwarded through the superintendent of prisons in Vellore on Friday and made available to the media, she said that after her 2014 petition, she moved the high court in 2015, seeking a direction to the government to consider her plea for release.

In its order dated 20 July, 2016, the Madras High Court had said that the authorities were at liberty to consider her representation in accordance with law, subject to the outcome of another writ petition in the Supreme Court. The high court's judgment was confirmed by a division bench in its order of 27 April, 2018, Nalini said.

Days ago, "the Supreme Court had disposed of" a related pending petition, too, she said. In view of the ruling of the Madras High Court and the apex court disposing of a related plea, Nalini said "my representation dated 22 February, 2014, seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution in accordance with the said scheme... may be considered, and I may be released from prison at an early date."

She said she was "fully eligible" to be released under the scheme. The Supreme Court has disposed of a petition by the Centre regarding a proposal for the release of the convicts, filed by the Tamil Nadu government. The Centre had on 10 August told the apex court that it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu government's proposal to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, saying remission of their sentence will set a "dangerous precedent" and have "international ramifications."

On 23 January, the apex court had asked the Centre to take a decision within three months on a 2016 letter of the Tamil Nadu government written on 2 March, 2016, seeking its concurrence on releasing the seven convicts.

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of 21 May, 1991, at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a female suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at an election rally. Fourteen others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Sep 09, 2018 19:58:56 IST

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