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Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin Perarivalan freed under Article 142

IndiaRajiv Gandhi's assassin Perarivalan freed under Article 142

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned the release of AG Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, invoking its unique power under Article 142 of the Constitution. Perarivalan was 19 years old when he was arrested in 1991 for buying batteries, which were used to trigger the belt bomb that killed the former Prime Minister. He has been in prison for nearly 31 years.

The Supreme Court had earlier used Article 142 in several high-profile cases including Union Carbide and the Ayodhya Ram Mandir’s verdict. This time, it cited ‘inordinate delay’ on part of the governor in pardoning Perarivalan.  The Tamil Nadu government had in 2018 recommended to then-governor Banwarilal Purohit that all seven convicts be released under Article 161 of the Constitution.

While delivering its judgment, the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice BR Gavai, and Justice AS Bopanna upheld the delay on part of the Tamil Nadu’s governor in Perarivalan’s pardon plea under Article 161 of the Constitution.

The governor, nonetheless, stalled the state’s recommendation for months before sending it to the President under Article 161, which allows the Governor to decide Perarivalan’s release.

Article 161 states, “The Governor of a state shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends”.

The Supreme Court has Invoked Article 142 in Several Cases in the Past

The top court had used its power under Article 142 in several cases, including the 1989 Union Carbide matter and the 2019 Ayodhya Ram Mandir verdict. In the Bhopal gas tragedy case, the court ordered the US-based Union Carbide Corporation to pay $470 million compensation to the victims.

In the Ram Mandir verdict, the Supreme Court refused division of the land, and instead handed over 2.77 acres of the disputed area to Hindus. Sensing injustice to Muslims, the top court directed the Center to grant five acres in an alternative site within the purview of the land acquired by the government.

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