A week after the Supreme Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to file a report on the status of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A G Perarivalan’s release plea – which has been pending before Governor Banwarilal Purohit after the state Cabinet recommended the release in September 2018 – Perarivalan on Tuesday wrote to Purohit appealing for an expedited decision.
Currently lodged at the Puzhal central prison near Chennai city, Perarivalan wrote in his letter that he had already served a 29-year incarceration.
The letter further cited several reasons for his release, including that he was 19 when he was arrested, he was the only male child of his parents, there was no record against him of criminal antecedents and that he had an excellent conduct record throughout his prison term. The plea further cited that during his time in jail Perarivalan has completed his graduation and post graduation and that he had been a university topper.
Last week’s hearing in the SC was over a petition filed by Perarivalan seeking an order to stay his life sentence till the Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) probe into a possible larger conspiracy behind the assassination was completed. The apex court had sought a report from the Tamil Nadu government.
During the hearing, the SC bench, led by Justice L Nageswara Rao, found that the progress made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its probe into whether there was a larger conspiracy behind the assassination was not significant. Justice Rao had also noted that the status report of the CBI investigation had no specifics but only “vague allusions” to inquiries conducts abroad in London, Hong Kong, and other foreign nations.
Perarivalan’s plea was based on two arguments. First, the CBI probe led by the MDMA did not find any evidence of a bomb or conspiracy. Second, that he was handed out the maximum punishment for the crime he committed – supplying two nine-volt batteries.
His petition stated he was unaware of the assassination plot and that he has bought the batteries without knowing that they were to be used for the suicide bombing. Further, the plea also cited an affidavit filed by retired CBI officer Thiagarajan – who recorded Perarivalan’s “confession” in TADA custody – admitting that he had altered Perarivalan’s statement to qualify it as a confession.
The petition also added that Perarivalan’s probation officer had issued a report favouring his release or parole.
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