Demand for release of Rajiv Gandhi assasination case convicts: A timeline

September 09, 2018 07:15 pm | Updated May 19, 2022 11:06 am IST

A look at the fate of seven convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case — Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran — that had been hanging on appeals, clemency pleas and the battle between the Central and governments on powers of remission, and also between the political players of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu

: A designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) courtְ sentences all 26 accused to death. January 28, 1998

On appeal, the Supreme Court upholds death for Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini, commutes sentence to life for Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran and frees 19 others. May 11, 1999:

Supreme Court confirms death for Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini, dismissing their appeals to commute their sentences to life. October 8, 1999:

Tamil Nadu Governor rejects clemency petitions of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini. October 27, 1999:

Madras High Court quashes Tamil Nadu Governor’s rejection of clemency petitions; directs the Governor to pass a fresh order after obtaining the State Cabinet’s views. November 25, 1999:

Tamil Nadu Cabinet chaired by then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi decides to recommend commuting death sentence of Nalini alone. April 19, 2000:

Tamil Nadu Governor accepts Cabinet decision to commute death sentence of Nalini. April 21, 2000:

Tamil Nadu government forwards clemency pleas of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to the President. April 28, 2000:

President rejects clemency petitions of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan. August 12, 2011:

Execution of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan fixed for September 9, 2011. August 26, 2011:

Tamil Nadu Assembly adopts resolution urging President to commute the death sentences of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan | Madras High Court stays execution of the three on their plea; petitions transferred to Supreme Court later. August 30, 2011:

Supreme Court says it would hear the pleas of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan. May 1, 2012:

Supreme Court on grounds of delay in disposing their mercy pleas. February 18, 2014:commutes the death sentence

Tamil Nadu Cabinet Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran; sends decision to Centre under Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. February 19, 2014:decides to immediately release

Dismissing the Centre’s petition, the Supreme Court refuses to review its verdict commuting death sentence of Santhan, Murugan, and Perarivalan in the case. April 1, 2014:

Supreme Court refers matter on remission of sentence to Constitution bench and to be decided by it. April 25, 2014:frames seven questions

Supreme Court commences hearing to examine power of Centre and States to grant remission for releasing convicts whose death sentences are commuted to life term. July 23, 2014:

: Supreme Court dismisses Centre’s curative plea against commutation of death penalty into life term of three convicts. July 29, 2015

Supreme Court reserves verdict on constitutional issues arising out of the Tamil Nadu government decision to set free convicts in the case, including the power of States to remit sentences. August 12, 2015:

Supreme Court says Centre will decide whether the convicts will be released or not holding that to grant remission without any specific plea from convicts. | Also read: December 2, 2015:States cannot exercise suo motu the powerEnding politics of remission

seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu government to consider her representation for premature release December 14, 2015:Nalini moves Madras High Court

Perarivalan the grounds for Bollywood actor from prison. January 16, 2016:seeks to knowSanjay Dutt’s premature release

In yet another bid to release the seven convicts, seeking its views on its decision to free them | Also read: March 2, 2016:Tamil Nadu government writes to CentreReviving the politics of remission

Centre to free the three. April 19, 2016:rejects Tamil Nadu proposal

Three-judge Supreme Court issue. April 20, 2016:Bench to decide on remission

The Supreme Court, considering the plea of Perarivalan, on the conspiracy and making of the belt bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. August 17, 2017:decides to hear the government

Twenty-six years after the assassination, a former CBI officer who interrogated one of the convicts, then 19-year-old Perarivalan, makes a sworn statement before the that the where he said he had “absolutely no idea” of the purpose for which the two nine volt batteries he bought would be used for. November 14, 2017: Supreme CourtCBI omitted the part of the convict’s confession

The says the multi-agency probe into the has not made much headway and seems to be “endless”. December 12, 2017:“larger conspiracy” behind the assassinationSupreme Court

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court gives the Centre three months to decide the government’s proposal made in 2014 to remit the sentences of the seven life-term convicts. January 23, 2018:Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court upholding his conviction. March 14, 2018: dismisses Perarivalan’s plea seeking recall of the May 1999 verdict

The Union Home Ministry seeks details from the Tamil Nadu government to release the seven convicts. The Ministry seeks details from the State government on eight grounds, including the “physical and mental status of the convicts” and their “economic and social background”. June 11, 2018:to “facilitate further” the latter’s request

President the government’s request to release the seven prisoners convicted in the case. June 15, 2018: Ram Nath Kovind rejectsTamil Nadu

The Supreme Court rejecting a proposal made by the Tamil Nadu government to release the convicts. August 10, 2018:accepts on record a communication from the Central government

The Supreme Court to place on record a copy of his application made to the Tamil Nadu Governor two years ago seeking grant of pardon. August 20, 2018:gives Perarivalan a fortnight’s time

The Supreme Court to consider the mercy petition of Perarivalan. September 6, 2018: asks the Tamil Nadu Governor

The AIADMK government in Banwarilal Purohit the release of all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. September 9, 2018:Tamil Nadu decides to recommend to Governor

, and give them permission to file additional documents. A Bench, led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, allowed the victims to amend their petition, filed in March 2014, and bring on record the recent resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu government, which recommended to the Governor that the convicts be released. September 17, 2018:Supreme Court decides to hear the victims of the bomb blast

The Supreme Court invokes its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to release Perarivalan May 18, 2022:

PTI (With inputs from )

A timeline:

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.