The Supreme Court on Tuesday (November 3) expressed unhappiness over the pendency of a plea by a convict seeking pardon in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, for over two years with the Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit.
The top court asked the counsel for petitioner A G Perarivalan, who is serving a life sentence, whether the court can exercise its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution to request the governor to decide his plea of pardon filed under Article 161. Article 161 empowers a governor to pardon a convict in any criminal case.
According to news agency PTI, a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi said, “We don’t want to exercise our jurisdiction at this stage but we are not happy that recommendation made by the government is pending for two years.”
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The bench was hearing a plea of 46-year-old Perarivalan who has sought suspension of his life sentence in the case till the CBI-led Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) probe is completed.
During the hearing, the bench told senior advocate Gopal Shankarnarayanan, representing Perarivalan, that “the Governor has to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. But if the Governor does not pass order, what the court can do, you tell us”.
It asked Shankarnarayanan to apprise the court as to how it can request the Governor to take decision and what are the laws on the issue.
The top court then asked advocate Balaji Srinivasan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, as to why the state government cannot request the Governor to pass order without any specific order from this court?
Srinavasan said that Governor had sought report of the MDMA.
The bench then told ASG K M Nataraj, appearing for Centre, as to whether any request has been made by the state to send the report of MDMA.
He replied that the larger conspiracy probe is going on and the investigation is spread over various countries like in United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
The bench told the ASG that the larger conspiracy theory is to find out if any other person, besides those convicted in the matter, are involved in this.
“It is not with respect to those who are convicted and are in jail. You look at it,” the bench told Nataraj, adding that the larger conspiracy probe is pending for almost 20 years.
The state government had earlier told the top court that that the Cabinet has already passed a resolution on September 9, 2018 and recommended to the Governor for the premature release of all seven convicts in the case.
(With inputs from PTI)