(from top left) Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Ravichandran, Robert
The crucial cabinet meeting is being convened after the SC on September 6 directed the Governor to consider the mercy petition of A G Perarivalan, one of the convicts.
While, the Centre had on August 10 told the Apex Court that it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu Government’s proposal to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case saying remission of their sentence will set a “dangerous precedent” and have “international ramifications”, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Naveen Sinha and KM Joseph disposed of the Centre’s petition while directing the TN Governor to consider the mercy petition of Perarivalan.
In fact, the reaction of State law minister C Ve Shanmugam ahead of the meet that the Government wanted to release all of them had raised hopes among the other convicts, which also led Nalini Sriharan who had moved a plea for parole to attend her daughter’s wedding in London, withdraw it and instead seek early release.
Advocate M Radhakrishnan, appearing for Nailini, said “The Governor has no independent powers and has to abide by the advice of the council of ministers. Once the cabinet decides to release the convicts, the Governor must sign on the mercy pleas. At best, he can either sit on the files for a while or return it only once seeking a clarification. But thereafter, he has to abide by the Cabinet’s decision.” However, many on citing Governor’s power under Article 161, claim that he can only pardon convicts in cases which are related to State’s law and not the Central law. But legal experts note that all the seven have been convicted under Section 302 of IPC read with 120(B) IPC. Hence, this pertains to State law since the SC had already set aside their conviction under TADA.