SC seeks CBI's reply on a plea by Rajiv Gandhi case convict

SC seeks CBI's reply on a plea by Rajiv Gandhi case convict

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the CBI to reply to a plea by A G Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking a recall of the May 1999 judgement upholding his conviction in the case.

The convict, along with others, was awarded capital punishment but their sentence was reduced to life term subsequently by the apex court in 2014 due to 11 years delay in deciding their mercy plea by the Centre.

He filed a fresh plea and cited an affidavit by a CBI officer, which stated the convict had absolutely no idea about the purpose when he supplied two nine-volt batteries that were used for preparing the improvised explosive device (IED) that killed Gandhi.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi asked the CBI to file its response on Perarivalan's application within three weeks and posted the matter for consideration on February 22.

During the hearing, the bench quizzed advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Perarivalan, on whether the court can now reopen the case by acting on an application.

The counsel said that was the only avenue open for the convict.

The review petition was already dismissed in his case and the second review cannot be entertained, he said.

"What about a curative petition," the bench then asked. On this, he said there was very limited scope in curative jurisdiction in the Rupa Ashok Hurra (2002) case.

"Why not Article 32 (writ jurisdiction under the Constitution) petition? We have to consider if Rupa Ashok Hurra judgement comes in the way of filing Article 32 petiton. These are very serious and debatable questions. We will send the matter to a larger bench if required," the bench said.

The counsel submitted that he was conscious of the apex court's order passed on Tuesday asking the Centre to take a decision within three months on a 2016 missive sent by the Tamil Nadu government seeking an approval to release seven convicts in the case.

"We are conscious of the consequences. Please give me a week's time," the counsel submitted.

"It is a matter of serious consequences for Indian jurisprudence. We will seek a response from the government if you want to argue," the bench said. To which, the counsel agreed.

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