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Tamil terrorists to be released – Rajiv Gandhi assassination case

The Madras High Court on Wednesday said that Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit cannot sit on the state government’s recommendation to release all the seven life convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case for so long.

The division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice V M Velumani questioned the delay on part of the constitutional authority while hearing a habeas corpus plea moved by T Arputham Ammal. She is the mother of one of the convicts, A G Perarivalan, who is seeking a 90-day parole for her son, who needs immediate medical attention due to several ailments.

Observing that there is no time limit prescribed for the constitutional authority to decide on such issues only “because of the faith and trust attached to the constitutional post”, the court said, “…If such authority fails to take a decision in a reasonable time, then the court will be constrained to interfere.”

The bench also directed the prosecutor to get instructions from the state government regarding the parole request and directed the court registry to inform the counsel for the Governor’s office to get appropriate instruction as to the disposal of the recommendation.

The case will now be heard on July 29.

The Tamil Nadu cabinet had submitted the recommendations before the Governor in September, 2018, under Article 161 — it is pending even after 22 months.

The Governor cannot reject the state’s recommendation, and there is no time limit prescribed to take a decision. But the decision has been delayed for nearly two years “for consultations”, according to a Raj Bhawan source.

Of the seven convicts, four, including Perarivalan and Nalini, were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 1999. The sentence was commuted to life in separate decisions in 2001 and 2014.

In a short order passed in September 2018, the Supreme Court of India had stated: “The authority concerned will be at liberty to decide the application as deemed fit”.

The order was on an application filed by Perarivalan under Article 161, which is about the power of the Governor to grant pardon or suspend, remit or commute prison sentences in certain cases.

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