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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has told the Supreme Court that the Governor of Tamil Nadu is the competent authority to take call on the request for remission of sentence of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict, AG Perarivalan.
In an affidavit filed on November 20, the central investigating agency has maintained that the issue of remission of sentence is solely between the office of the Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the convict. It is for the Governor to decide whether or not to release Perarivalan, who is serving a life sentence, it added.
The reply from the agency comes after Perarivalan’s mother applied to the Tamil Nadu Governor for his release.
"It is for the His Excellency Governor of Tamil Nadu to take a call on the issue whether remission is to be granted or not and in so far as relief is concerned in the present matter CBI has no role," the response said.
CBI also told the Supreme Court that Perarivalan is not needed for 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.
reads the affidavit.
The Supreme Court had said in 2018 that it is upto the Governor to decide on Perarivalan's mercy plea.
Perarivalan had applied to the Governor for pardon on December 30, 2015. Almost three years later, in September 2018, the Supreme Court asked the Governor to decide the pardon plea as he “deemed fit”.
Three days later, on September 9, 2018 the Tamil Nadu Cabinet recommended to the Governor to remit Perarivalan’s sentence and release him forthwith but the Governor is yet take a call on the same.
The Jain Commission of Inquiry into the assassination had, in 1998, recommended further probe into the killing of Rajiv Gandhi.
Its mandate included 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.
A Justice L Nageswara Rao led Supreme Court Bench had, on November 3, said the MDMA investigation into the “larger conspiracy” behind Rajiv Gandhi assassination need not deter the Tamil Nadu Governor from deciding the plea for pardon of convicts like AG Perarivalan, who have been serving their sentence in jail for over two decades.
The court was then responding to submissions made by Additional Solicitor General, KM Nataraj that the scope of the MDMA probe extended to many countries and was still on.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, for Perarivalan, said the status reports filed about the MDMA probe was a “copy-paste” of earlier such reports.
The court had then made it clear during the hearing that it was reluctant to exercise its jurisdiction when the Governor was already seized of Perarivalan’s plea for pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The court in January 2020 had said the body was yet to conclude its investigation pertaining to the origin and make of the bomb which killed the former Prime Minister.
CBI in its November 20 affidavit has stated that it did not receive any request from the Governor’s office to reveal the status or details of the investigation as the "probe is spread across several countries".
It has also been pointed out that a June 1999 order of the designated TADA Court in Chennai prevents it from revealing any further information. The proceedings are held in-camera. However, a status report has been filed in the Supreme Court.
reads the affidavit.