Law and public opinion: On Perarivalan release 

News: Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.  

How was he released? 

The Supreme Court has invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. 

Why was he released? 

The mother of the convict, vast sections of public opinion and many political parties have been campaigning for years for his freedom. He drew public sympathy because he was only 19 at the time of assassination.  

In 2018, the State cabinet recommended the release to the governor. However, the Governor referred the advice to the President. The Centre argued, that the cases involving murder under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) come under the President’s exclusive jurisdiction in matters of remission of life sentences. 

What has been held by the Supreme Court? 

The remission comes under the State’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the Governor is bound by the State Cabinet’s advice when acting under Article 161. Therefore, the governor’s reference to the President was “inimical to the scheme of the Constitution”. 

The Governor’s remission powers are exercised solely on the State Cabinet advice. The release of these convicts would require the Centre’s concurrence under CrPC. 

What remains to be resolved? 

The Supreme Court failed to clear the issues of the absence of any time-frame for the President or the Governor to decide on the matter. Traditionally, this has been the cause of indefinitely delay in executive decisions.  

Source: The post is based on an article “Law and public opinion: On Perarivalan release” published in the “The Hindu” on 19th May 2022. 

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