The SC on Wednesday granted bail to Perarivalan, who was one of the seven convicts of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case Convict. He was serving a life sentence in the case related to the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
It was taken into account that he was in prison for nearly 32 years. A bench comprising of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai granted him bail.
The bench noted in the interim order, “Taking into account the fact that the applicant has spent over 30 years in prison, we are of the considered view that he is entitled to be released on bail, in spite of the vehement opposition by the Centre.”
An order was passed by the bench in a special leave petition filed by Perarivalan in 2016. The petition was filed against the refusal of Madras High Court to entertain his plea to seek commutation of sentence. The petition is still pending to decide the larger issue which relates to appropriate authority to decide the matter of remission.
The bench also noted that Perarivalan was on parole and has been granted parole earlier as well. Furthermore, it was noted that he had been granted parole thrice earlier and that there were sufficient materials to show the acquisition of educational qualifications and skillsets by him.
The bench also said that the bail will be subject to the satisfaction of the conditions of the trial court. The petitioner had reported to the local police during the first week of every month.
In 2014, the SC had commuted the death penalty to him and two others to him, and two others to life imprisonment on account of his pending mercy plea.
Additionally, Solicitor General KM Nataraj who was appearing for the Centre opposed the grant of bail. The ASG submitted that he had already availed the mercy plea benefit earlier. This was when his death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the Supreme Court in 2014. He also submitted that the next issue in the case was that who was the appropriate authority to consider the request for remission.
The application was submitted before the Governor, who in turn said that he was a competent authority to decide the same belonged to the President. He referred the Constitution Bench decision of the SC in the Sriharan case to argue on “appropriate authority”. As per section 432(7) CrPc, the pardon to decide the appropriate authority is the Central Government.
When he was asked the context of law, ASG replied that the petitioner had been convicted under IPC, Arms Act, and the Foreigner’s Act but acquitted under TADA.
The bench decided that while issues are being decided, the petitioner can be granted bail, having regard that he was in prison for the past 32 years.