After 23 years of solitary imprisonment in Tamil Nadu's prisons, AG Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination finally has a shot at freedom. This after, a former CBI official admitted to omitting a crucial part of the convict's statement that would prove his innocence to the Supreme Court.
In 2016, after multiple failed attempts to acquire a suspension of his sentence, Perarivalan appealed to the court on the grounds that the CBI was yet to conclude its probe into the conspiracy behind making of the bomb. In his plea, Perarivalan told the court that he was held guilty for supplying two nine-volt batteries allegedly used in the improvised explosive device (IED) that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. But the probe into the IED, is still underway, close to two decades since it was initiated.
And now, the former CBI official who had first told the media that Perarivalan was not in the know of the conspiracy back in 2014, has admitted the same through a written affidavit to the Supreme Court.
"We got this statement after years of talks with the CBI official. After Perarivalan was granted a life sentence Thiagarajan could not live down the guilt," says the convict's lawyer K Sivakumar. "So he gave us the statement and we submitted it to the apex court. This will have a massive impact on the case," he adds.
A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha has asked the Centre to clarify its stand on the suspension of the sentence within two weeks on the plea.
"So now, our only argument is that the investigation can proceed. But don't let this man languish in prison forever," says the advocate, who has been representing Perarivalan since 2009. "The state government can use Section 161 and release him. The Centre has to cooperate," he adds.
Section 161 of The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 requires a police officer to âmake a separate and true record of the statement of each such person whose statement he records.â An omission on the part of the officer would be a violation of the CrPC.
"Perarivalan from the very beginning has maintained that he has nothing to do with the assassination and now the CBI's official affidavit lends strength to this statement," says the advocate. "Yes, it may have come late but we are glad that at least it came. And now Perarivalan has a chance to be exonerated from this case."