Centre defends TN Govt decision to send mercy plea of A G Perarivalan to President

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Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict AG Perarivalan | Mathrubhumi file photo

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday defended in the Supreme Court the Tamil Nadu governor's decision to send the mercy plea of A G Perarivalan, who has served over 30 years of his life term in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, to the President.

Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj told a three-judge bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao that only the President can decide the plea regarding remission, commutation and mercy plea of an individual convicted under the central law.

The bench also comprising justices B R Gavai and A S Bopanna questioned the Centre that if that submission is accepted then remission granted by governors till date would become invalid.

The top court also said that if the the governor was not willing to accept the recommendation of the state cabinet on the issue of Perarivalan, he should have sent the file back to the cabinet for reconsideration.

The apex court heard the matter for two hours and reserved its verdict after hearing the submissions from the ASG, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu government and senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan, for the petitioner, on the plea filed by Perarivalan.

"Arguments concluded. Judgment reserved. Written submissions, if any, be filed, within two days," the bench said.

The apex court had earlier said that the Tamil Nadu governor was bound by the decision of the state cabinet on the release of Perarivalan, and disapproved of his action sending the mercy plea to the President saying it cannot shut eyes to something against the Constitution.

The top court had refused to agree with the Centre's suggestion that the court should wait till the President decides on the issue.

It had told the Centre that the governor was bound by the aid and advice given by the Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers under Article 161 of the Constitution while directing the Centre to submit its response.

"It is a matter to be decided by the court, the decision of the Governor was not even needed, he is bound by the decision of the council of ministers. We will have to look into this," the bench had told the Additional Solicitor General.

On March 9, the top court had granted bail to Perarivalan while taking note of his long incarceration of over 35 years and no history of complaints when out on parole.

It had said the pleas have to be heard finally because of the stand taken by the Centre that the state government does not have the power to entertain the mercy petition under Article 161 (power of the governor to grant remission) of the Constitution since the convict has already taken the benefit of remission earlier when his death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment.

The court has been hearing pleas including the one in which Perarivalan sought suspension of his life sentence in the case till the MDMA probe is completed. PTI

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