The Supreme Court Wednesday ordered the release of A G Perarivalan, one of the life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Perarivalan alias Arivu was 19-years-old when he was arrested on June 11, 1991. He was accused of having bought two 9-volt ‘Golden Power’ battery cells for Sivarasan, the LTTE man who masterminded the conspiracy. The batteries were used in the bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi on May 21 that year.
Here is a timeline of the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case
10.20pm, May 21, 1991: Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated at Sriperumbudur. The female assassin who triggered the belt bomb, Dhanu, and 16 others killed.
22 May, 1991 : A CB-CID team was constituted to investigate the case.
24 May 1991 : On request of the state government, then under the Presidential rule, handed over the investigation to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of CBI.
June 11, 1991 – CBI arrests 19 year old A G Perarivalan. He was booked under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) like others accused in the case.
20 May, 1992 : SIT chargesheeted 41 accused including 12 dead, three absconding, before a special TADA trial court in Chennai.
January 28, 1998 : After prolonged trial, TADA court sentenced 26 accused to death including Nalini and Perarivalan.
11 May 1999: The Supreme Court upholds the death sentence of four including Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini, three others to life sentences and freed 19 other death convicts. The TADA provisions were also struck down from the case.
April 2000: Nalini’s death penalty was commuted to life by Tamil Nadu governor on the basis of a recommendation of the state cabinet, and a public appeal made by Sonia Gandhi.
2001: Three death convicts including Santhan, Murugan and perarivalan submitted their mercy pleas to the President of India.
2006: Perarivalan’s autobiography – ‘An Appeal from the Death Row’ – claimed on how he was implicated in the conspiracy by taking a confession under duress that he bought a battery to make the bomb.
August 11, 2011: The then President Pratibha Patil, after 11 years, rejected these petitions.
August, 2011: As three death convicts were to be hanged on September 9, 2011, Madras HC stayed the execution orders. A resolution was also passed by the then Chief Minister, late J Jayalalithaa, seeking commutation of the death sentence.
February 24, 2013: Raising the issue of ‘double jeopardy,’ Justice K T Thomas, who headed the SC bench in 1999, said hanging them after 23 years would be unconstitutional. “This appears to be a third type of sentence, something which is unheard and constitutionally incorrect. If they are hanged today or tomorrow, they will be subjected to two penalties for one offense,” he said.
November 2013: Former CBI SP V Thiagarajan, who had taken the confession of Perarivalan in TADA custody, reveals that he altered it to qualify as a confession statement; he said Perarivalan never said he knew the battery he bought would be used to make the bomb.
January 21, 2014: SC commuted the death penalty of three Rajiv case convicts, along with 12 others including aides of forest brigand Veerappan, into imprisonment for life.
2015: Perarivalan submits a mercy petition to the Tamil Nadu Governor seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution. Later, he moved SC for having no reply from the Governor.
August, 2017: Tamil Nadu government grants parole to Perarivalan, the first parole after his arrest in 1991.
September 6, 2018: On Tamil Nadu governor’s inordinate delay, SC asserts that the Governor has the right to decide on the remission petition filed by Perarivalan.
September 9, 2018: Tamil Nadu Cabinet headed by the then CM Edappadi K Palaniswami recommends the release of all seven convicts.
January, 2021: As the Governor continues to sit on the cabinet recommendation, SC orders to take a decision, warns that the court will be forced to release them citing the inordinate delay. The Governor sends the files to the President despite it being a state cabinet recommendation.
May, 2021: Perarivalan comes out on parole. The new DMK government kept extending the parole.
March 09, 2022: Supreme court grants bail to Perarivalan
May 11, 2022: Supreme Court concludes hearing in the case.
May 18 – Final Order