In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to consider the mercy petition of A.G. Perarivalan, who is serving a life term in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Perarivalan’s counsel told the apex court that his mercy petition was pending for over two years, adding he had undergone more than 24 years of solitary/single confinement in this case.
The submission was made to an apex court bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Naveen Sinha and Justice K.M. Joseph.
Perarivalan, among the seven convicts in the case, had sought remission/pardon from the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution.
After the court asked the Centre to take a call on Tamil Nadu's proposal to release the convicts, the central government said on August 10 in its report submitted in the court that it did not agree, holding that setting them free will set a "dangerous precedent".
"Releasing the killers of a former Prime Minister will set a very dangerous precedent. The case has been decided by various forums of judiciary and executive and the prisoners do not deserve to be set free," the Centre contended.
Releasing them will lead to "international ramifications" by other such criminals in future, it added.
The now-vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka was blamed for the Congress leader's assassination by a suicide bomber at an election rally near Chennai on May 21, 1991.