Wed, 18 May 2022 09:37 PM IST
New Delhi/ Chennai | Jagran News Desk: AG Perarivalan, who was serving a life sentence for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, walked out of jail on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ordered his release, a judgement that was widely welcomed by pro-Tamil outfits in Tamil Nadu.
After walking out of the jail, Perarivalan, who was initially handed capital punishment by a special court in Chennai, said he now wants to "breathe" the air of freedom before deciding about his future as the 31-year legal battle has finally ended.
"I clearly believe there is no need for capital punishment. Not just for mercy... many justices including Supreme Court chief justices have said so and there are many examples. Everybody is human," Perarivalan was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Who was AG Perarivalan and what was his role in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination?
Alias Arivu, Perarivalan is the son of Tamil poet Kuyildasan. He was born on July 30, 1971 in Tamil Nadu's Jolarpet. His parents were followers of Periyar, the founder of Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu.
Perarivalan is now over 50 years old.
In the 1980s, Perarivalan - who was teenager back then - was a sympathiser of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE had given the task to assasinate Rajiv Gandhi to its intelligence operative Sivarasan, who was known as "One-Eyed Jack".
It was charged that Perarivalan had bought the two nine-volt batteries for Sivarasan, which were used in the bomb belt, a claim accepted by the Arivu, which played a key role in establishing his link with the attackers.
"...Moreover, I bought two 9 volt battery cells (Golden Power) and gave them to Sivarasan. He used only these to make the bomb explode," Perarivalan had said in his confession statement, as reported by The Indian Express.
In addition to that, it was charged that Perarivalan had also bought a motorcycle for Sivarasan in his name, but provided a wrong address.
However, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official V Thiagarajan in 2013 revealed that he had altered the statement taken by Perarivalan while he was in the Terrorism And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court.
Thiagarajan said Perarivalan had admitted that he had bought the batteries, but was not aware of the reason for buying them.
"Arivu told me that he did not know why they asked him to buy that (the battery). But I did not record that in the confession statement. Then, the investigation was in progress, so that particular statement I did not record. Strictly speaking, law expects you to record a statement verbatim… we don’t do that in practice," he said in a documentary released in 2013.
Following this, the Supreme Court in 2014 had commuted the death sentence of Perarivalan to life imprisonment on the grounds of an 11-year delay in deciding their mercy pleas by the Centre.
How he was released?
Perarivalan was released after the Supreme Court invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to do "complete justice" in a pending case.
Observing that the inexplicable delay in deciding remission is "inexcusable" as it contributes to adverse physical conditions and mental distress to the inmates, a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said the Tamil Nadu state Cabinet's advice recommending the premature release of all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was binding on the state Governor.
Delivering its 29-page verdict that came three days ahead of Rajiv Gandhi's 31st death anniversary, the apex court also rejected the Centre's argument that the President exclusively has the power to grant pardon in a case under IPC Section 302(murder), saying this would render Article 161 (power of Governor to grant pardon) functionless.
The bench, also comprising Justice B R Gavai, held that states have the power to advise and aid the Governor in the case of pleas of pardon under Article 161 made by convicts in murder cases. The Centre had earlier defended the Tamil Nadu Governor's decision to send the mercy plea of Perarivalan to the President.
Article 142 of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court's power to exercise its jurisdiction and pass order for doing "complete justice" in any case or matter pending before it. The article was also used in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in which the apex court granted the ownership of the 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya to a trust, paving the way for the construction of a Ram Temple.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed on the night of May 21,1991 at a poll rally in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, by a woman suicide bomber identified as Dhanu. Fourteen others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.