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“Rajiv Gandhi assassination case” ; Convict appeals on “Life and Liberty” clause

Abused over not being given with information correlating to his mercy appeal, A.G. Perarivalan, one of the life prisoners in the ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has registered a suit against refusal of information about his “Life and Liberty” and said the State Public Information Officer, Raj Bhavan, was responsible for the disciplinary action for not replying to his request under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

In his request given to the First Appellate Authority, Governor’s Secretariat, Chennai, Perarivalan, now bearing his 30th year of imprisonment and resided at Puzhal central prison, said he had registered a petition under the “Life and Liberty” clause of the Act asking a copy of the Tamil Nadu Governor’s order, which was sent to the Supreme Court by the Ministry of Home Affairs on February 4, 2021, conveying the appeal for acquittal under Article 161, to the Centre.

In his appeal, given through the jail officials, the life convict had asked the State Public Information Officer, Raj Bhavan, to give a copy of the letter handed over in person by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on January 29, 2021, to the Governor asking the early release of the seven prisoners in the trial based on the 2018 Cabinet recommendation. Attempting to understand whether the Governor had received any legal view from the Law Department or its officers before settling on his mercy petition, Perarivalan desired a copy of the petition, if such advice was demanded. He also desired information in a flow chart method on the day-to-day development executed on his application with features of the officer/authority who managed the papers with the time taken.
Summoning his right to request under Section 19 (1) of the Act for not being given any reply or intimation, Perarivalan said the State Public Information Officer not only neglected to send a reply within 48 hours, since his petition concerned to the “Life and Liberty” clause but also failed to respond within the maximum prescribed period of 30 days of the petition and was therefore responsible for punitive action, departmental operations and a penalty under the provisions of the Act.

“The SPIO ought to have had the courtesy to at least intimate the applicant considering the unique facts and circumstances of the present case wherein the applicant is in prison for about three decades. The inaction of the SPIO shows that he lacks obedience to law…your good office being a superior authority must intervene with the inaction and attitude of the SPIO and direct him to function properly in the future, besides directing him to provide the requested information,” the life convict said.

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Perarivalan also aimed out that while the President’s secretariat and offices of other Governors presented information asked under the RTI Act on their websites, he was compelled to solicit information using a written request since no such documents were issued on the official website of the Tamil Nadu Governor on the status of petitions under Article 161.

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