In the month of May this year, the Supreme Court used its extraordinary powers to free a seventh convict, Perarivalan. The same order applied to the rest of the convicts.
The court also said that the Tamil Nadu government had recommended to the Governor in 2018 that the convicts be freed.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21st May 1991 in Sriperumbudur. Court found Nalini Sriharan, Santhan, Murugan, Robert, Jayakumar, RP Ravichandran and AG Perarivalan guilty awarded deth sentence.
The Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case stirs deep emotions in Tamil Nadu and every government in the state, whether led by the AIADMK or DMK, has campaigned for their freedom. Many in Tamil Nadu believe that the seven prisoners played minor roles in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and were duped into taking part in a plot they knew little about.
In 2000, Nalini Sriharan’s sentence was reduced to a life term on the intervention of Sonia Gandhi, then INC President and Rajiv Gandhi’s wife. In 2008, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, met with Nalini in Vellore jail.
The sentence of six more convicts was also commuted in 2014. The same year, then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha initiated moves to free them.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a media statement that, the decision of the Supreme Court to free the killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi is totally unacceptable and completely erroneous. The Congress Party criticises it clearly and finds it wholly untenable. It is most unfortunate that the Supreme Court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue.’
Nalini Sriharan’s brother Bakianathan said the convicts had already served 33 years in prison and had suffered enough. “They are released on humanitarian grounds. Those who oppose their release should respect the laws of India,”