Omit­ted cru­cial de­tails of confession, says CBI of­fi­cer in SC

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTNATION - Bhadra Sinha let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

NEWDELHI: Twenty-six years af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Ra­jiv Gandhi, the CBI’S in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer in the case, V Thi­a­gra­jan, filed an af­fi­davit be­fore the Supreme Court on Tues­day ad­mit­ting that he omit­ted cru­cial facts while record­ing the con­fes­sional state­ment of ac­cused AG Per­ari­valan.

Per­ari­valan was con­victed for be­ing a part of the larger con­spir­acy to kill Gandhi. Serv­ing life term, he was charged with sup­ply­ing two nine-volt bat­ter­ies used to make the bomb that killed Gandhi at a pub­lic rally at Sripe­rum­budur in Tamil Nadu in 1991. Per­ari­valan was sen­tenced to death by the trial court, which the Supreme Court con­verted to life.

Per­ari­valan — who was 19 when sent to jail — has filed a pe­ti­tion be­fore the apex court al­leg­ing the lack of an ef­fec­tive probe into the “larger con­spir­acy” be­hind the as­sas­si­na­tion.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer Thi­a­gra­jan had recorded Per­ari­valan’s confession un­der the re­pealed Ter­ror­ist and Dis­rup­tive Ac­tiv­i­ties (Pre­ven­tion) Act (TADA) and stated in his af­fi­davit: “Per­ari­valan ex­pressly stated he was not aware at the time of pur­chas­ing the bat­ter­ies; he had no idea as to what pur­pose would they be used for.” Thi­a­gra­jan was the su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice with the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) when the in­ci­dent took place.

“Even the knowl­edge that the bat­tery was used in the ex­plo­sion was only spec­u­la­tion,” read the af­fi­davit. Since the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was still in progress, the probe team was not sure about Per­ari­valan’s par­tic­u­lar state­ment.

Thi­a­gra­jan said the rea­son why he did not record Per­ari­valan’s claim of be­ing in the dark about the con­spir­acy was be­cause it was an ex­cul­pa­tory sys­tem and the pur­pose of record­ing his confession would have been lost. Also, the CBI’S probe into the con­spir­acy be­hind the mak­ing of the bomb was pend­ing at that point.

Per­ari­valam’s coun­sel, Gopal Sankara­narayanan, said it was spec­u­la­tive that the bat­ter­ies his client pur­chased were used to make the bomb.

Per­ari­valam has sought the sus­pen­sion of his life sen­tence. A bench of jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi and jus­tice Navin Sinha has asked the gov­ern­ment and CBI to re­spond to the plea. The bench also fixed De­cem­ber 6 for the next hear­ing.

Thi­a­gara­jan re­ferred to a wire­less mes­sage from May 7, 1991, from mas­ter­mind Si­varasan to LTTE’S top op­er­a­tive, Pottu Amman, in which the for­mer said the con­spir­acy be­hind the killing was known to just three per­sons, in­clud­ing him. He said the “mere act” of pro­vid­ing nine-volt bat­ter­ies would not make Per­ari­valan privy to the con­spir­acy.

Thi­a­gra­jan said he took a considered de­ci­sion to put forth the facts per­tain­ing to the case in proper per­spec­tive so as to fa­cil­i­tate the court to ren­der jus­tice.

Per­ari­valam wants SC to sus­pend his sen­tence un­til the Multi Dis­ci­plinary Mon­i­tor­ing Agency (MDMA) — con­sti­tuted to un­earth the con­spir­acy be­hind the as­sas­si­na­tion — is com­plete.

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