All convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case are freed by the Supreme Court: A timeline
A Supreme Court order was issued Friday releasing the remaining convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case serving life imprisonment. A G Perarivalan, released in May, was reviewed by the bench, and the court ordered the release of Nalini Sriharan, R P Ravichandran, Santhan, Murugan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar.
In May, Perarivalan was released, 24 years after he had been sentenced to death and two months after the Supreme Court had granted him bail.
LTTE suicide bombers killed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, during an election rally in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur.
Timeline of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case
May 21, 1991: An assassination attempt is carried out on Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur at 10.20 p.m. The female assassin, Dhanu, triggers a belt bomb, and Gandhi and 16 other people are killed.
May 22, 1991: A CB-CID team was formed to investigate the case.
May 24, 1991: Following a request from the state government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), under the President’s Rule, took over the investigation.
June 11, 1991: The CBI arrested 19-year-old A G Perarivalan. As with other individuals accused in this case, he was charged under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA).
May 20, 1992: In a special TADA trial court in Chennai, the SIT filed charges against 41 accused persons, including 12 who died and three who absconded.
January 28, 1998: Nalini and Perarivalan are among 26 people sentenced to death by the TADA court following a lengthy trial.
May 11, 1999: As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, four death sentence convicts have been upheld, including Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, and Nalini, while three others have been sentenced to life, and 19 others have been freed. This case also struck down the provisions of the TADA.
April 2000: Sonia Gandhi and the state cabinet recommended that Nalini’s death penalty be commuted to life by the then Governor of Tamil Nadu.
2001: Santhan, Murugan, and Perarivalan, three death-row convicts, submit their mercy pleas to the President of India.
2006: According to Perarivalan’s autobiography, An Appeal from Death Row, he was implicated in the conspiracy after confessing under duress that he purchased a battery for the bomb.
August 11, 2011: After 11 years, President Pratibha Patil rejects their mercy petitions.
August 2011: As the three death convicts were scheduled to be hanged on September 9, 2011, the Madras High Court stayed their execution. In addition, the former chief minister, the late J Jayalalithaa, passed a resolution seeking a commutation of her death sentence.
February 24, 2013: As a result of the ‘double jeopardy issue, Justice K T Thomas, who headed the SC bench in 1999, said it would be unconstitutional to hang them after 23 years. “This appears to be a third type of sentence, something that has never been heard before and is constitutionally incorrect.” Should they be hanged today or tomorrow, they will be punished twice for the same offense.”
November 2013: V Thiagarajan, a former CBI Special Branch officer who took Perarivalan’s confession in TADA custody, reveals that it was altered to qualify as a confession statement. According to him, Perarivalan never stated that he understood that the battery he purchased would be used to make the bomb.
January 21, 2014: Three of the Rajiv Gandhi case convicts, along with 12 others, including aides to Veerappan, have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court.
2015: Under Article 161 of the Constitution, Perarivalan petitions the Tamil Nadu governor for release. In response to the governor’s failure to respond, he appealed to the Supreme Court.
August 2017: Perarivalan has been granted parole for the first time since his arrest in 1991 by the Tamil Nadu government.
September 6, 2018: Regarding the governor of Tamil Nadu’s inordinate delay, the Supreme Court asserts that the governor has the authority to decide on the request for remission filed by Perarivalan.
September 9, 2018: The Tamil Nadu Cabinet, headed by the then chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, recommends that all seven convicts be released.
January 2021: As the governor continues to delay deciding on the cabinet recommendation, the court orders that a decision is taken and warns that the court will be forced to release the documents given the inordinate delay. Even though state the cabinet recommended the files, the governor sent them to the President.
May 2021: Perarivalan has been released from prison. As a result of the new DMK government, parole was extended repeatedly.
March 9, 2022: The Supreme Court has granted Perarivalan bail.
May 11, 2022: Hearings in the case are concluded by the Supreme Court.
May 18: Perarivalan is released by the Supreme Court 31 years after the arrest.
June 17: The Madras High Court denied Nalini Sriharan’s plea for early release.
August 11: To obtain an early release from prison, Nalini Sriharan approaches the Supreme Court.
September 26: Separate petitions seeking premature release by Nalini Sriharan and R P Ravichandran are served on the Tamil Nadu government by the Supreme Court.
November 11: On Friday, the Supreme Court released the remaining six convicts citing the case of Perarivalan.