50-year-old Perarivalan has spent 32 years in prison after getting convicted for assassinating the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Though he won paroles in recent times from his incarceration, he was seeking a complete acquittal from the case even the voices had grown in the state for his release after serving three decades of prison term. Perarivalan was among the seven convicts in the case who were the longest-serving inmates in India.
Moreover, the case has been termed as the first in the country which had killed the Prime Minister. After three decades of imprisonment since 1991, Perarivalan has got bail on Wednesday - March 9 for the first time. The Supreme Court has granted bail to Perarivalan, opening a similar window for the other convicts. A bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai had granted the bail stating that Perarivalan had undergone imprisonment for 32 years. Let's take a look at the timeline of Perarivalan's incarceration.
June 1991: 19-year-old Perarivalan was arrested for his involvement in assassinating the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed on May 21, 1991.
August 1991: Perarivalan was accused of purchasing two batteries for Sivarasan and these batteries were used in the bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi. A case under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) was registered by CBI against several persons.
January 1998: After the trial, a lower court has convicted Perarivalan and 25 others and awarded the death penalty for murdering the Prime Minister.
May 1999: The Supreme Court has quashed the cases against 19 persons and acquitted them from the case while it has convicted seven people - Perarivalan, Nalini, Murugan alias Sriharan, and Santhan were awarded capital punishment while Ravichandran, Jayakumar, and Robert Paes were awarded life imprisonment.
February 2014: By citing delay in deciding on mercy petitions, the apex court has commuted the death penalty to life sentence for Perarivalan and three others.
December 2015: Perarivalan has submitted a mercy plea to the Tamil Nadu Governor seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
March 2016: The then Tamil Nadu government has sent a proposal to the Union government seeking remission of the life sentences of all seven convicts.
November 2017: CBI's former investigation officer, Thiagarajan, has confessed that he had ignored an important part of Perarivalan's statement of confession. He had admitted that he had failed to record that Perarivalan was not aware of the purpose why he bought two batteries and did not know the use of the batteries. Thiagarajan had expressed his regret that Perarivalan had spent three decades in jail for the mistake he had done.
April 2018: The Union government has rejected the proposal from the state government and said that the state government can't decide on a case that was under CBI.
September 2018: The previous ADMK regime in Tamil Nadu had adopted a cabinet resolution recommending the release of all seven convicts including Perarivalan to the Governor.
June 2021: Arputhammal, the mother of Perarivalan, had released a video on social media pleading Chief Minister MK Stalin to take steps for the permanent release of her son.
March 2022: After 32 years of imprisonment, Perarivalan has been awarded bail. While passing the order, the court has noted that there was no complaint about his conduct when he was released on parole three times. The apex judicial body has also highlighted that he is entitled to get released on bail, based on the fact that he had spent three decades in jail.
In the order, the court said, "Taking into account the fact that the applicant has spent over 30 years in prison, we are of the considered view that he is entitled to be released on bail, in spite of the vehement opposition by the Centre." The reports say that he was also granted bail based on his educational qualification and ill health. On the other hand, Perarivalan's bail has increased the prospect of similar relief for the rest of the convicts.
The case that changed the fate:
A lawyer of the Tamil Nadu government, who represented Perarivalan, had quoted the case of Gopal Godse in his argument of acquiring bail for Perarivalan. Gopal Godse, the brother of Nathuram Godse, was serving life imprisonment for assassinating the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. He had then received a reduction of his sentence and walked out of the prison in 14 years. In Perarivalan's case, he was in prison for the past 32 years. Godse's case has changed the direction of Perarivalan's case, taking him towards bail for the first time in three decades.
On the other hand, Perarivalan's bail has increased the prospect of similar relief for the rest of the convicts. Speaking to the reporters following the bail, Perarivalan's counsel Prabhu has said that the remaining convicts have an opportunity to get bail following Perarivalan. After learning that Perarivalan was awarded bail, several leaders and parties in Tamil Nadu including VCK and Communist had welcomed the verdict.