While granting relief to Perarivalan, a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai also raised question on how can the governor refer his remission petition to the President despite the state cabinet recommendation to allow his plea.
Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, opposed the bail plea and said it is for the appropriate authority to take a decision on remission petition and in this case it is the President. He also contended that Perarivalan had already availed of the benefit of remission when his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. But the bench reminded him that it was done by the apex court and not by the state government. .
The uncertainty on whether Perarivalan can get pardon and come out of jail continued as the governor last year refused to take a decision on his application to remit his sentence after keeping it pending for more than five years.
The Centre told the court that the governor forwarded the application to it on the ground that it is to be decided by the President. In an affidavit filed by the home ministry, the governement said, “The governor of Tamil Nadu considered all the facts on record and after perusal of relevant documents, recorded that the President is the appropriate competent authority to deal with the said request for remittance matter. The proposal received by the central government will be processed in accordance with law.”
Perarivalan was awarded the death penalty in 1991 for his involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate the former Prime Minister. He was charged for providing a 9-volt battery to co-conspirator Sivarasan for the explosive device used to kill Gandhi.
After he spent 20 years on death row, the Supreme Court commuted Perarivalan’s death penalty to life imprisonment in February, 2014.
Perarivalan had applied to the governor for pardon in December, 2015 and the Supreme Court in September 2018 asked the governor to decide the pardon plea “as he deemed fit”. The state government in the same month had recommended to the governor to remit the sentence of all the seven convicts and release him forthwith. The governor, however, didn’t decide on the TN cabinet recommendation and kept the matter pending.