Chennai: Tamilnadu Chief Minister M K Stalin Wednesday night ordered grant of 30 days parole to A G Perarivalan, one of the seven life convicts in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, on medical grounds.
Based on a request made by the convict’s mother D Arputhammal seeking to grant parole for her son on medical grounds, the Chief Minister favourbaly considered the plea and ordered grant of ordinary leave for 30 days, by relaxing the rules.
Perarivalan is now lodged in the Puzhal Central Prison. Though Perarivalan and other convicts have been granted parole on the orders of the court, perhaps, this was for the first time a Chief Minister has directly granted parole to a convict in the case.
It may be recalled that a couple of days after Stalin took over as Chief Minister on 7 May, DMK’s key allies, MDMK general secretary and Rajya Sabha memmber Vaiko and VCK leader and Lok Sabha MP Thol Thirumavalavan urged him to release all the seven life convicts as they have served more than 30 years in prison.
Vaiko, had in a statement on 10 May, cited the Supreme Court order and said the State government need not seek the Centre’s opinion on the release of the seven convicts.
“Even though the Chief Justice of India had said that the state government can release them and the previous AIADMK government had recommended their release to Governor Banwarilal Purohit under Article 161 of the Constitution, the Raj Bhavan is yet to take a decision,” he said.
Contending that there was no need to seek the opinion of the Centre in the matter, he alleged that so far, a drama was enacted on the pretext of getting the Centre’s permission.
“Since the DMK is also demanding their release, Stalin should order their release,” Vaiko said.
The issue of the release of the Rajiv convicts had been dominating the State’s political scene now and then.
During the previous AIADMK regime, the then Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami during a debate in the Assembly in February this year expressed the hope that Purohit will take a good decision on their release.
It was the AIADMK government which adopted resolutions on their release in the Assembly and in the State Cabinet and forwarded it to the Governor for his assent, he had said.
It may be recalled that DMK Chief Stalin, who is the then Leader of the Opposition, had boycotted the Governor’s address and the Assembly session as Purohit had not acted on the September 2018 State Cabinet resolution recommending the release of all the seven life convicts under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court, while hearing a petition granted one week deadline to the Governor to decide on the release of Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the case. The deadline had ended on 28 January, but still there was no word about their release from the Raj Bhavan.
The Court on a reply plea filed by the Centre on 21 January, granted a week’s time for the Tamilnadu Governor to decide on state government’s recommendation to release Perarivalan.
While the State government’s recommendation to the Governor for pardon to all the convicts has been pending for over two years, Perarivalan had moved the apex court to decide on the issue at the earliest.
It may be recalled that dujring the AIADMK regime, the State Cabinet on 9 September, 2018, adopted a resolution recommending to the Governor to release all the seven convicts under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The decision to release all the seven convicts was taken in line with the 6 September, 2018 Supreme Court order.
Based on the Apex Court order, which had asked the Governor to consider the mercy plea of Perarivalan for premature release, the Cabinet had recommended to the Governor to release all the convicts under Article 161 of Constitution.
A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Naveen Sinha and K M Joseph had disposed of a plea filed by the Centre opposing the State government’s proposal for the release of the convicts, and asked the Governor to consider the mercy plea of Perarivalan.
The Raj Bhavan had on 15 September, 2018 said a just and fair decision would be taken in accordance with the Constitution.
It said this was a complex case and involves examination of legal, administration and Constitutional issues and the papers would be processed scrupulously.
Later, when the issue was taken to the Court, the State government said it had got a reply from the Raj Bhavan that it was waiting for the final report of the MDMA which was probing the larger conspiracy angle in the case.
In the meantime, the CBI informed the Supreme Court that Perarivalan has nothing to do with the MDMA probe and his release.
In its 24-page affidavit filed before the Apex Court, the CBI said it was entirely left to Purohit to decide on releasing Perarivalan.
Stating that it has no role whatsoever in the issue, the CBI said the question of remission is wholly between Purohit and Perarivalan.
“It is for the office of His Excellency Governor of Tamil Nadu to take a call on the issue of whether remission is to be granted…So far as relief in the present matter is concerned, CBI has no role,” it said.
The CBI said Perarivalan is “not the subject matter of the further investigation carried out by the MDMA”.
The CBI also clarified that it did not receive any request from the Governor’s office to divulge the status or details of the investigation.
Since then leaders of various political parties were hoping that the Governor would soon take a good decision on the issue.
In 24 November, 2020, Stalin had petitioned the Governor seeking the release of the seven life convicts citing the CBI’s submission in the Supreme Court.
Stalin said the DMK has been continuously demanding the release of seven convicts–Nalini, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Pyas and P.Ravichandran–who were undergoing the long endless agony of imprisonment for about 30 years.
Now that there is a change of Guard in the State, the issue has once again come to the Centre stage, with Vaiko and VCK leader Thirumalavalan urging Stalin to order their release.