MK Stalin urges TN Governor to expedite release of Rajiv Gandhi case convicts

Stalin’s letter after the Supreme Court of India expressed displeasure over delay by Tamil Nadu Governor in deciding on remission for Perarivalan.
MK Stalin and AG Perarivalan
MK Stalin and AG Perarivalan
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Days after the Supreme Court of India verbally expressed unhappiness over the Governor of Tamil Nadu not taking a decision on the Tamil Nadu state government’s recommendation to remit life sentences of the seven persons convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case, DMK Chief and Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu MK Stalin has written to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to expedite the process.

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, had expressed its displeasure over the recommendation and the remission petition filed by one of the convicts named Perarivalan, pending with the Governor of Tamil Nadu for over two years. A bench consisting of Justice Nageswara Rao, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Hemant Gupta made the remark while hearing a petition filed by AG Perarivalan (one of the seven convicts) for his early release.

"We do not want to exercise jurisdiction. But we're not happy with how this recommendation has been pending before the Governor for 2 years," Justice Nageswara Rao had observed. 

Referring to this observation, MK Stalin wrote to Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday, explaining that all seven convicts -- Nalini, Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran -- have been in prison for the last three decades. Pointing out that the AIADMK government, under pressure from the DMK and based on a Supreme Court direction, had recommended for the remission of the remainder of the sentence for all the convicts on September 9, 2018 and had forwarded that to the Governor for his assent. 

“However, this important recommendation has been kept pending without taking decision by Your Excellency for over two years which has been causing grave and irreparable hardship to the said convicts. It is trite in law that a Constitutional authority performs his duty within a reasonable timeframe,” the letter said.  

Adding that the Supreme Court had, in January 2020, asked whether any decision had been taken on Perarivalan’s plea for remission, Stalin also said that the delay in acting on the recommendation reflects poorly on Tamil Nadu. “The fact that the recommendation of the State Cabinet has been kept pending for over 2 years by Your office reflects poorly on the State and gives the impression that the State is not run in accordance with law,” the letter said, adding that the Governor kindly accept the state’s recommendation and immediately release the seven persons.  

Following the Supreme Court’s observation on Tuesday, several personalities took to social media to bat for the release of Perarivalan and others in the case. 

Ace cinematographer PC Sreeram tweeted, “Let him see the light. Justice can not be delayed further,” on Wednesday.

Madurai MP Su Venkatesan also wrote to the President of India on Wednesday pointing out that all seven persons have already served twice the life imprisonment. “Major political parties, prominent human rights activists and several organisations in TN are demanding their release for a long time and this demand has wider consent among the masses also,” the MP wrote. 

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