Governor can’t sit on TN’s resolution releasing Rajiv convicts: High Court

The Madras High Court has expressed strong dissatisfaction over the Tamil Nadu Governor failing to pass orders on the State Government’s recommendation to release all the seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination despite a lapse of two years.
 Madras High Court
Madras High Court

Chennai

Observing that no time limit is prescribed for authorities to decide on such issues only because of the faith and trust reposed on the constitutional post, a division bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice VM Velumani said, “The recommendation should be either accepted or rejected within reasonable time. If such authority fails to take a decision in reasonable time, then the court will be constrained to interfere.”
The bench made the observations while hearing a habeas corpus plea moved by T Arputam, mother of life convict AG Perarivalan seeking 90 days parole for her son. She submitted that her son is suffering from various ailments requiring immediate medical attention. She also expressed apprehension that he is vulnerable to COVID inside the prison as he suffers chronic illness.
The government counsel submitted that Perarivalan had already availed a 90-day parole and hence had to wait for another two years before seeking another one. Countering it, the counsel appearing for Arputam sought to take the prevailing circumstances into account for grant of parole. He also cited the State government’s resolution passed in September 2018 freeing all the seven accused and the failure of the Governor to act.
Based on this, the bench adjourned the case to July 29 to enable the prosecutor to get instructions from the government and the Governor’s office.
Nailini’s plea seeking a direction to the Governor to act on the State government’s resolution was dismissed as non-maintainable on the basis that no court of law could issue a writ of mandamus directing the Governor to exercise his constitutional functions. Another plea by Nalini seeking to by-pass the Governor’s assent was also dismissed.
TIMELINE OF RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION CASE
  • 1991: Former PM Rajiv Gandhi assassinated at an election rally by an LTTE suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur
  • 1998:TADA Court awards death sentence to all 26 accused 
  • 1999: SC sentences Nalini, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to death; commutes death sentence of three others to life; frees 19 others 
  • 2000: State Cabinet chaired by then CM Karunanidhi decides to recommend commuting the death sentence of Nalini, which was accepted by the Governor
  • 2011: Execution of three convicts fixed for September 9 
  • 2011: TN Assembly adopts resolution urging the President to commute the death sentence 

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