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Rajiv Gandhi assassination: India’s SC orders release of life term convict

India's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, who has served over 30 years of a life term in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao invoked its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the constitution to grant relief to Perarivalan, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

"The state (Tamil Nadu) Cabinet had taken its decision based on relevant considerations. In exercise of Article 142, it is appropriate to release the convict," the bench said.

On March 9, the top court had granted bail to Perarivalan while taking note of his long incarceration and no history of complaints when out on parole.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991, at Sriperumbudur in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu by a suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at a poll rally.

Perarivalan was accused of buying two nine-volt batteries which were used to set off the bomb in May 1991. He was charged with buying the batteries for Sivarasan, a member of Sri Lanka's Tamil separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who masterminded the assassination.

In the Supreme Court had in May 1999 upheld the death sentence of four convicts – Perarivalan, Murugan, Santham and Nalini.

But on February 18, 2014, the apex court commuted the death sentence of Perarivalan to life imprisonment, along with that of two other prisoners Santhan and Murugan, on grounds of an 11-year delay in deciding their mercy pleas by the Indian government.

The Daily Star

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Published : May 19, 2022

By : The Daily Star