TN Chief Minister MK Stalin unveils his next major move...Discusses the release of Rajiv Gandhi case convicts!

In what would become one of the pivotal moves of the new administration of Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister MK Stalin has held discussions over the release of the seven long-term convicts of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The development has come within a week of forming a new government in the state. 

According to reports close to the developments, MK Stalin has held discussions at his residence on Tuesday with Tamil Nadu Law Minister Regupathi, Attorney General Shanmugasundaram, and high officials over releasing seven convicts - Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan, Robert Pious, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, and Nalini of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. These convicts have been lodged in various prisons of Tamil Nadu for three decades. 

They were convicted of assassinating the then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur in the outskirts of Chennai in 1991 when the Prime Minister came for a political campaign. These seven were convicted in 1999 and of these seven, four including Nalini were awarded the death sentence. The execution was scheduled in 2011 and the convicts were moving mercy pleas to the government. In 2014, the Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence of the convicts in the case to life imprisonment on the grounds of delay caused by the government in deciding their mercy pleas.

Following the commutation, they have filed petitions to the top court requesting a release from the prison. The previous ADMK government under Edappadi Palaniswami had adopted a resolution in 2018 and moved it to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to decide on the release of seven convicts. Ever since the government moved its resolution to the Governor, he had been surfaced with incessant demands from the political leaders and activists in the state to release the convicts from the prison. MK Stalin was one of the leaders to demand the Governor to expedite the release of the convicts. However, the Governor kept the demands idle whereas the Central government had refused to release them. 

Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the case, had moved the petition of pardon to the Governor while his mother Aruputhammal had carried out legal efforts to bring her 48-year-old son out of the prison, who went in at the age of 19. Earlier this January, the Governor has passed the ball to the President's court by stating that the President holds the authority to decide on the matter. 

Despite the apex court's observation that the Tamil Nadu Governor was making an extraordinary delay in deciding on the state government's recommendation on releasing the convicts, Banwarilal Purohit has said that the President holds the authority. The Union Home Ministry has said that the Tamil Nadu Governor has recorded that the Honorable President of India is the appropriate competent authority. 

However, no further development has happened in his regard, and 2021 marks thirty years of the incarceration of the convicts. As the previous ADMK government was ousted from the reign in the 2021 assembly polls, DMK's MK Stalin has become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and formed the new government. As the release of seven convicts has been a long-simmering demand in the state, he has now held discussions with his Law Minister and Attorney General over the possibilities of the release of seven convicts.

Stalin's meet has come a day after MDMK's Chief Vaiko demanded the new government to release the convicts. On Monday, Vaiko said, "Without committing any crime, Shanthan, Sriharan alias Murugan, his wife Nalini, Arivu alias Perarivalan, and three others were undergoing imprisonment for more than 27 years. They have lost their youth behind the bars." He added that the DMK had earlier spoken in favour of the release of the seven convicts and Chief Minister MK Stalin should issue an order regarding the same.