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Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case: Who Are Nalini, Ravichandran And Four Other Convicts Released By SC

The apex court in 1999 observed that Nalini was an obedient participant with no key evidence to establish her participation in the conspiracy.

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case: Who Are Nalini, Ravichandran And Four Other Convicts Released By SC
The Supreme Court used its extraordinary powers for "doing complete justice," as mentioned under Article 142 of the Constitution.(Pic-ANI)

THE SUPREME Court ordered six convicts, serving life sentences for over three decades in the assassination case of the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, to be released immediately.

A bench consisting of BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna passed the order for the release of convicts Nalini Srihar, Robert Pais, Ravichandran, Suthenthira Raja Santhan, Shriharan Murugan, and Jaikumar. The bench passed the order following the direction passed on May 18, granting relief to Perarivalan, who is another convict in the case.

The Supreme Court used its extraordinary powers for "doing complete justice," as mentioned under Article 142 of the Constitution. ("Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc.") Subsection 1 of Article 142 states, "the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe."

The Convicts

Nalini Murugan: Nalini, who is in her mid-fifties, is among the seven convicts and the only one present at the assassination spot in Sriperumbudur where former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed. Later, photographs showed Nalini with the alleged assassins before Gandhi's arrival.

The apex court in 1999 observed that Nalini was an obedient participant with no key evidence to establish her participation in the conspiracy. In a majority order, the apex court sentenced her to death, but after a plea by Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv's wife, the sentence was commuted to life.

RP Ravichandran: Ravichandran, who was close to the Tamil Eelam movement in the 1980s, is said to have had close links with Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) leaders before the formation of the armed group. The prosecution charges said that he had visited Sri Lanka via sea during the mid-1980s. However, the conspiracy charges were struck down in 1999 by the SC.

Santhan: Santhan is allegedly believed to have fled and reached India from Sri Lanka by boat along with Sivarasan and a few others. According to the top court, his participation in the murder was direct and active.

Murugan: According to Nalini, Murugan fled from Sri Lanka and reached Chennai, hoping to go abroad. He was her brother's friend, and she met Sivarasan through Murugan.

Jayakumar: Jayakumar, who is the brother-in-law of Payas, has been accused of serious involvement in the killing.

Robert Payas: Payas is believed to have had links with the militant group LTTE and is accused of having a close association with Sivarasan. The court took note of his participation in the conspiracy and observed that he also faced atrocities from the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.

Perarivalan: Accused of having bought two battery cells for Sivarasan, he was 19 when arrested. He also sent a decoded message on May 7, 1991, to LTTE leader Pottu Amman in Sri Lanka: "Our intention is not known to anybody except us three."

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