“It will be miscarriage of justice if extreme penalty is carried out”
A documentary released by the People’s Movement Against Death Penalty (PMADP) here on Saturday claimed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had failed to record verbatim the confessional statement of A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu, the convict facing death penalty in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The shocking but delayed revelation was based on the interview of a former Superintendent of Police of the CBI who admitted that he failed to record verbatim the confessional statement of Perarivalan.
V. Thiagarajan IPS (retired) who was the then CBI SP of the Kerala Branch said he was assigned the task of recording the statement of accused persons in 1991.
“Arivu told me that he did not know why they asked him to buy that [the battery]. But I did not record that in the confessional statement. Then the investigation was in progress, so that particular statement I did not record. Strictly speaking, law expects you to record a statement verbatim… we don’t do that in practice,” he said.
He said Sivarasan, one of the prime suspects, had sent a message to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam headquarters that the plot to kill Gandhi was not shared with anybody. “It excludes the prior knowledge of everybody else, except Nalini, that Gandhi was going to be assassinated… this is a very solid, uncontested and unchallengeable evidence.”
There was subsequent internal evidence to clearly say that Arivu had no prior knowledge that Gandhi was going to be killed. “If he did not know that there was going to be a killing, how can you make him party to the killing. It is illogical, it is against the evidence on record. Therefore, you look at it from any angle it will be miscarriage of justice if the extreme penalty is carried out,” he said.
Mr. Thiagarajan went on to explain that though he felt this before, he could not do anything at that stage. With regard to Arivu in particular, he always felt “a little uneasy” that the confessional statement was not appreciated the way it should have been. “Superficially they took it and jumped to the conclusion… they took a strong view that Arivu knew of the killing and he bought the battery. That is not the truth. We cannot speculate, it is very dangerous to speculate.”
Former Supreme Court Judge Justice K.T. Thomas who delivered judgement in the case has also opposed capital punishment. He said if the capital punishment is implemented, it would mean two punishments for one offence, which India cannot afford.
Former Supreme Court Judge V.R. Krishna Iyer who heads the PMADP made an appeal to the Government of India against executing any person in the name of Rajiv Gandhi. “Whenever there is a suspicion, please don’t execute,” he said.