In a major setback to AG Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected his plea seeking to recall the 1999 judgement, which found him guilty.
While dismissing the plea, the bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it “does not need to interfere with its 1999 verdict upholding conviction”.
Perarivalan, who was 19 at the time of the crime, was found guilty of purchasing two 9-volt batteries for the improvised explosive device (IED) that was used in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. In his plea, however, Perarivalan pointed out that the probe into the IED is still underway – almost two decades after it was initiated.
It’s been 20 yrs, yet no development in questioning Nixon who is lodged in Colombo jail over d IED which killed Rajiv Gandhi, Indian Govt’s LR is pending for years;if no development in the probe over bomb, y shld I b n jail for yrs fr allegedly getting a battery: Perarivalan n SC— Arvind Gunasekar (@arvindgunasekar) March 14, 2018
The Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency, which is probing the larger conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, in its affidavit on Tuesday had said that there was multiple evidence to prove Perarivalan’s involvement in the crime. The agency also stood firm on “life imprisonment means life imprisonment”.
The CBI pointed out that he had built a clandestine radio and also supplied the batteries for the waist-bomb that killed the former Prime Minister.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by Dhanu, a woman suicide bomber belonging to the LTTE.
Perarivalan, now 46, was taken into custody in the early hours of June 10, 1991.
In May 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence on four people – including Perarivalan.
The judgement had said, "AG Perarivalan alias Arivu (A-18) was sentenced to death for purchasing the 9-volt battery used in the belt-bomb which Dhanu strapped around her waist. A single passage in his confessional statement made clear that this battery was used in the bomb. Since the only way he could have known this was prior to the blast, and on the basis of corroborative evidence, the judges came to the conclusion that Arivu had prior knowledge of the assassination attempt."
In 2014, the apex court converted the death sentence into life imprisonment on the grounds that the President had unreasonably delayed in deciding his mercy petition.
Perarivalan was granted parole for the first time in August, 2017.
Last year, a former CBI officer, V Thiagarajan’s affidavit to the Supreme Court had given hope to Perarivalan. In his affidavit, he had told the Supreme Court that Perarivalan was not aware of the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi. The affidavit stated "It is humbly stated that accused Perarivalan's statement that he was totally in the dark as to the purpose for which the batteries were purchased was not recorded by me, because it would be an exculpatory statement and, hence, the whole purpose of recording the confessional statement would be lost. Further, I did not deem it fit to record this exculpatory statement because the investigation regarding the bomb was pending at the time of recording the confessional statement."
In October 2017, Justice (retd) KT Thomas had also written a letter to Sonia Gandhi asking her to “show magnanimity to the convicts” in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Thomas, who headed the three-member bench that confirmed the convicts’ punishment, also said the CBI’s investigations had “serious flaws”.