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Perarivalan release | Tamil Nadu Governor can decide, says CBI

The Rajiv Gandhi case convict has nothing to do with further investigation into the “larger conspiracy” behind the assassination of the former Prime Minister, the central agency says.

The Central Bureau of Investigation told the Supreme Court that convict A.G. Perarivalan has nothing to do with the further investigation conducted by its Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) into the “larger conspiracy” behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

The CBI said it was entirely left to Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to decide whether to release Perarivalan, who is serving a life sentence. Perarivalan’s mother has applied to the Governor for his release. He was arrested at the age of 19 and is in his late forties now.

Also read | Rajiv Gandhi case convicts are just arrows, MDMA is finding out the bows: Centre

The central agency said it has no role whatsoever in the issue, and the question of remission is wholly between Governor 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,” a 24-page affidavit filed by the agency in the top court said.

The CBI affidavit said Perarivalan is “not the subject matter of the further investigation carried out by the MDMA”. “The further investigation conducted by the MDMA is only limited to the mandate provided by the Jain Commission Report,” the agency said.

Also read | Perarivalan gets 30-day parole

The Jain Commission of Inquiry into the assassination had recommended further probe into the killing.

Its mandate included the monitoring/ tracking of absconding persons suspected of the crime, probe into the role of 21 Sri Lankan and Indian suspects identified by the Commission, looking into the delay in the interception of messages, among other things.

The CBI clarified that it did not receive any request from the Governor’s office to divulge the status or details of the investigation. The probe is spread across several countries.

Also read | Rajiv Gandhi murder case: Governor can rule on convicts’ plea, says Supreme Court

The agency said it cannot reveal the details anyway. A June 1999 order of the designated TADA Court in Chennai prevents it from doing so. The proceedings are held in-camera. However, a status report has been filed in the Supreme Court.

The CBI has thus agreed with the apex court’s oral remarks that the probe into the larger conspiracy does not concern convicts like Perarivalan.

“Larger conspiracy probe is only to prove if any other people are involved. It is not for them [people already convicted],” Justice L. Nageswara Rao, leading a three-judge Bench, had observed orally during a hearing on November 3.

Perarivalan had applied to the Governor for pardon on December 30, 2015. Almost three years later, on September 2018, the Supreme Court asked the Governor to decide the pardon plea as he “deemed fit”. Three days after this court order, on September 9, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet recommended to the Governor to remit Mr. Perarivalan’s sentence and release him forthwith.

Also read | ‘Governor’s decision on Rajiv case convicts after MDMA gives report’

“However, it seems neither the recommendation was signed by the Tamil Nadu Governor neither the order of September 6 has been honoured by the Governor for the past two years,” an application filed by Perarivalan had said.

On January 20, the apex court had sought information from Tamil Nadu, represented by Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan and Yogesh Kanna, on the steps taken by the Governor pursuant to the September 6 order and the Cabinet’s recommendation. In February, the State government informed the court that the Cabinet recommendation had been sent to the Governor for his signature. The court had responded by asking the State to ensure that the Cabinet decision to release Perarivalan is enforced.

The apex court is scheduled to hear the case on Monday.

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