Supreme Court Orders Release Of Convict In Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case

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Invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Supreme Court decided that the Governor’s excessive delay in resolving Perarivalan’s early release petition under Article 161 justified his release.

Perarivalan, who had spent more than 30 years in prison, complained to the court about the delay in his release, despite the Tamil Nadu government’s request to commute his sentence in 2018. The case saw a judicial battle over who had the proper authority to decide the remission plea: the President or the Governor.

The Tamil Nadu State Cabinet decided to award remission to Perarivalan on relevant factors, according to a bench led by Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai. The Court further stated that the governor of Tamil Nadu’s excessive delay in exercising his duties under Article 161 of the Constitution can be challenged in court. It refused to accept the Union Government’s argument that the President had sole authority to award remission in cases involving Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, arguing that otherwise, the Governor’s powers under Article 161 would become otiose. The State Government is well within its authority, according to the Bench, to assist and advise the Governor in pardon/remission petitions involving murder convictions.

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