Tamil Nadu Governor has complete liberty to decide on Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict’s mercy plea, says Government of India

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 07, 2020, 04.21 PM(IST) Written By: Sidharth MP

Rajiv Gandhi Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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The government of Tamil Nadu had earlier proposed the release of the convicts to the Central Government, which was rejected by the Ministry of Home Affairs in April 2018 citing section 453 of the CrPC.

The Government of India has informed the Madras High Court that the Tamil Nadu Governor has full powers, freedom to decide on the mercy plea of AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination. 

The release of the seven convicts has been pending since September 2018, when the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution for their release and handed it over to Governor Banwarilal Purohit for his assent, which has not been assented to till date.

Owing to the Governor not having assented to the resolution, one of the convicts Nalini Sriharan had filed a Habeas Corpus plea in the High Court stating that she was being kept in jail without legal grounds and that she must be allowed to appear in court and that a decision on her release be taken. The plea also mentioned the pending action by the Governor of Tamil Nadu on the resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu government which recommended the release of all the seven convicts in the case - Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini.

In response to Nalini’s petition, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that the plea by the government of Tamil Nadu to release the seven persons convicted in the case has already been rejected by the central government. Adding that the only mercy petition pending before the Governor is that of AG Perarivalan and urged the High Court to dismiss the habeas corpus filed by Nalini.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs has already rejected the proposal of the Tamil Nadu government under Section 453 of the CrPC for the release of the above named 7 convicts in the case. The mercy petition is pending with the Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu, Governor is a Constitutional functionary and he has the discretion to decide on the petition under the powers conferred upon him by the Constitution of India,” reads the counter affidavit filed by the MHA.

The government of Tamil Nadu had earlier proposed the release of the convicts to the Central Government, which was rejected by the Ministry of Home Affairs in April 2018 citing section 453 of the CrPC. The Supreme Court in September 2018 directed the Tamil Nadu Governor to consider the mercy petition of Perarivalan. Following which, the government of Tamil Nadu passed an Assembly Resolution that recommended the governor to take action in the case under Article 161 (Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases) of the Constitution of India.

Speaking to WION, Nalini’s advocate Radhakrishnan said, “State cabinet has passed a resolution in September 2018 and it is binding on the Governor and all seven of them should have been released on 9th September 2018. Three earlier cases were adjudged by a Constitutional bench, where it was ruled that the Governor has no discretion under Article 161. The Governor merely is a signing authority. We maintain that they are under illegal detention since September 2018 and should be released.”

The next hearing in the case will be on February 12.