Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case convict Perarivalan released by SC; A timeline of the case

The Supreme Court of India on May 18 pronounced an order to release Rajiv Gandhi murder case convict A G Prearivalan citing special powers for the court to make an order so. Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi Assasination case, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1998. Perarivalan was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 1998. The next year, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence but commuted it to life imprisonment 2014.

At the time of the killing, Perarivalan was just 19-years-old and was accused of buying the two 9-volt batteries used in the bomb to assassinate the former prime minister. The release of this man comes after 31-year-long incarceration. 

The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi occured on 21 May 1991, wherein the investigation started soon after the incident. Immediately after the assassination, an investigation team was set up and at that time, the government handed the investigation over to the CBI on 22 May 1991. The interim report of Justice Milap Chand Jain, looking into the conspiracy angle to the assassination, indicted the DMK for colluding with the LTTE. The report concluded that the DMK had provided sanctuary to the LTTE, which made it easier for the rebels to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.

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The case in a timeline:

May 21, 1991: Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated at Sriperumbudur by suicide bombing by LTTE. 

May 22, 1991: A CBI team was set up to investigate the probe. 

June 11, 1991: A G Perarival was arrested as one of the seven convicts in the assassination case and was convicted of procuring a 9-volt battery for the explosive device.

January 28, 1998: Death penalty pronounced to all 26 persons accused in the case

May 11, 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.

April 2001: Three death convicts, including Santhan, Murugan, and Perarivalan, submited their mercy pleas to the President of India. However, the court rejected the pleas.

August 2011: As the three death convicts were to be hanged on September 9, 2011, Madras HC stays the execution orders. A resolution is also passed by the then chief minister, late J Jayalalithaa, seeking commutation of the death sentence.

November 2013: Former CBI SP V Thyagarajan has revealed that the confession of Perarivalan, who was taken into custody by TADA, was changed to become a confession. 

January 2014: The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of three accused in the Rajiv Gandhi case and 12 others, including Veerappan’s accomplices, to life imprisonment. Later the next year, Perarival submits his mercy plea to release him under Article 161 of the Constitution to the TN court.

August 2017: Perarivalan got his first parole after the assassination in 1991. 

September 2018: The Tamil Nadu cabinet headed by the then Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had recommended the release of the seven accused. 

January 2021: Supreme Court asks Centre to take a decision within three months on the TN Government’s decision to release the seven convicts.

May 2021: Perarivalan was again released on parole. The new DMK government has extended parole.

March 9, 2022: The Supreme Court grants bail to Perarivalan. Followed by the conclusion of the Supreme Court hearing in the case.

May 18, 2022: The Supreme Court orders the release of Perarivalan