'Historic judgment' says CM Stalin, reactions pour in from political leaders

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of AG Perarivalan while invoking Article 142 of the Constitution.
A smiling AG Perarivalan
A smiling AG Perarivalan
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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin termed the Supreme Court’s verdict in AG Perarivalan case as a ‘historic judgment.’ In his statement on May 18, following the order of release of Perarivalan by the Supreme court, Stalin said, “The Supreme court has accepted the arguments made by the state government. The DMK had promised that we would put in all efforts to secure the release of seven Tamils. The SC judges have said that the governor has no role to interfere in the affairs of the government. The man who spent 32 years behind the bars, now is breathing freedom. I convey my regards and welcome him. This judgement is a victory for state autonomy and federalism. Along with human rights, state rights have also been protected. The state government will take efforts to secure the release of six others convicted in the case as well.” Stalin also praised Aruptham Ammal, Perarivalan’s mother for her 30-year struggle to secure her son’s release. 

He further stated that once DMK came to power, they wrote to the President, pressured the Governor and the Union government and debated very strongly in the Supreme court. “These have been the foundation of today's verdict,” he added.

The judgment predictably did not find any appeal with the Congress. The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee issued a statement saying, “The Supreme Court convicted seven people in connection with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. One among them has been released today citing certain legal points. We do not want to criticise the SC verdict. But at the same time we want to categorically say they are not innocents and they are murderers.”

Other political party leaders across Tamil Nadu however welcomed the verdict by the Supreme Court.  

Vanni Arasu, deputy general secretary, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) welcomed the judgment and he tweeted "Tamil Nadu is waiting to welcome'' before the judgment. 

Dr Ravikumar VCK MP from Villupuram told Tamil news channel Puthiyathalaimurai, "The Supreme Court not only assured human rights but also the rights of the state. While declaring the verdict, the Supreme Court highlighted Madu Ram's verdict and mentioned that a governor is a mere tool and that he has no role to stop or intervene in the decisions of the State Government. I thank TN Chief Minister MK Stalin for his effort to release Perarivalan. This verdict is a success for Arputhammal's long battle. At this time, I would like to remember all the activists who supported his release in various aspects. It is not ending here and we should work together to remove the death sentence from our law books. The Perarivalan case will be a significant example of this."

According to a Dinamani report, veteran politician Pazha Nedumaran said that he welcomed the verdict. He said the verdict would pave the way for release of the other six members who are presently serving sentences in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case. He demanded the central and state government give ex-gratia payment to the 26 family members who are also involved in the case, on a humanitarian basis. 

In 2018, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet had decided to pardon Perarivalan and sent the mercy plea to the Governor. However, the Governor refused to take a decision on his release and sent the petition to the President. After MK Stalin became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, he had written to President Ram Nath Kovind to accept the recommendation made by the government in 2018, on releasing all seven convicts in this case. 

The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday, May 18 while ordering the release of AG Perarivalan ruled that "no exercise under Article 161 can have inexplicable delay and it can be subjected to judicial review" and also invoked article 142 for releasing Perarivalan. The Bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and AS Bopanna pronounced the judgement. 

AG Perarivalan served his sentence of more than three decades in prison. The Supreme Court delivered a verdict on whether the Tamil Nadu Governor was right to refer AG Perarivalan’s plea for pardon to the President without taking a decision. The Supreme Court said the state cabinet had taken its decision based on relevant considerations. 

On 1991, May 21, former Prime Minister of India and Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber while he was about to address a large gathering during campaigning at Sriperumpudur. AG Perarivalan was arrested on June 11 of the same year and convicted for arranging a nine-volts battery for the bomb. Six others, Murugan, his wife Nalini, Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, and P Ravichandran were also convicted for the murder of Rajiv Gandhi and have now spent 31 years in jail. 

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