Man jailed in Ra­jiv killing as I hid facts, says ex-CBI of­fi­cer

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - @times­ @times­

New Delhi: Al­most 18 years af­ter Per­ari­valan was con­victed as a plot­ter in the Ra­jiv Gandhi as­sas­si­na­tion case, a for­mer CBI of­fi­cer in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has told the Supreme Court that the con­vict did not know of the plan to kill the for­mer PM.

V Thi­a­gara­jan also said Per­ari­valan’s state­ment about not be­ing aware of the plot was not recorded in his confession,which was heav­ily re­lied upon by courts to con­vict him, as this would have favoured the de­fen­dant.

Now, Thi­a­gara­jan has filed an af­fi­davit in the SC and ex­plained the rea­son for the “omis­sion”, and vir­tu­ally sup­ported Per­ari­valan’s plea for re­mis­sion of the sen­tence.

“It is humbly stated that ac­cused Per­ari­valan’s state­ment that he was to­tally in the dark as to the pur­pose for which the bat­ter­ies were pur­chased was not recorded by me, be­cause it would be an ex­cul­pa­tory state­ment and hence the whole pur­pose of record­ing the con­fes­sional state­ment would be lost. Fur­ther, I did not deem it fit to record this ex­cul­pa­tory state­ment be­cause the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­gard­ing the bomb was pend­ing at the time of record­ing the con­fes­sional state­ment,” he said in his af­fi­davit.

In an in­ter­view with TOIin 2013, Thi­a­gara­jan had said Per­ari­valan, in his confession be­fore him, ad­mit­ted that he pur­chased the bat­ter­ies. “But he said he did not know the bat­ter­ies he bought would be used to make the bomb. As an in­ves­ti­ga­tor, it put me in a dilemma. It wouldn’t have qual­i­fied as a confession state­ment with­out his ad­mis­sion of be­ing part of the con­spir­acy. There I omit­ted apart of his state­ment and added my in­ter­pre­ta­tion. I re­gret it,” he said, adding that if he had a chance, he would have cor­rected the mis­take.

Thi­a­gara­jan jus­ti­fied his de­ci­sion to file the af­fi­davit, say­ing he had grown con- cerned at Per­ari­valan lan­guish­ing in jail with de­clin­ing prospects of re­lease.

The 1981-batch IPS of­fi­cer had recorded the con­fes­sional state­ments of Per­ari­valan alias Arivu in 1991, wherein he was said to have ad­mit­ted that he had pur­chased two bat­ter­ies and handed them to Si­varasan — the leader of the as­sas­si­na­tion squad — to be used to det­o­nate the bombs to kill the for­mer PM.

Per­ari­valan also stated he was not aware of the pur­pose for which the bat­ter­ies were bought and was in the dark about the as­sas­si­na­tion plan. .

“We were not sure at that time about the part played by Per­ari­valan in the con­spir­acy but as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­gressed there was con­fir­ma­tion about the ig­no­rance of the said ac­cused re­lat­ing to con­spir­acy... Hence a mere fact of pro­vid­ing the nine-volt bat­tery in the first week of May 1991would not make him privy and party to the said con­spir­acy. This in­ter­nal ev­i­dence also makes it clear that the ac­cused was not taken into con­fi­dence about the as­sas­si­na­tion,” Thi­a­gara­jan said.

The of­fi­cer’s state­ments is con­tra­dic­tory to the SC ver­dict, which had, in 1998, held “we there­fore reach the con­clu­sion that A-18 (Arivu) was ac­tively in­volved in the crim­i­nal con­spir­acy to as­sas­si­nate Ra­jiv Gandhi”.

Per­ari­valam was about 20 when ar­rested in mid-1991. He was ini­tially awarded the death penalty, but it was com­muted to life im­pris­on­ment.

His lawyer Gopal Sankara­narayanan told a bench of Jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi and Jus­tice Navin Sinha that his client was lan­guish­ing in soli­tary con­fine­ment for just procur­ing the bat­ter­ies and the CBI had not been able to in­ter­ro­gate the real cul­prit who had made the bomb. The court asked the Cen­tre to re­spond to the state­ments made by the for­mer of­fi­cer and the pe­ti­tioner. Mum­bai: If Ma­ha­rash­tra’s pro­posed labour re­forms on fac­tory clo­sures and sack­ings go through, all the 37,234 fac­to­ries in the state would have the op­tion of shut­ting shop and fir­ing work­ers with­out seek­ing the gov­ern­ment’s per­mis­sion.

Cur­rently, the In­dus­trial Dis­putes Act, 1947, al­lows this lib­erty only to fac­to­ries with fewer than 100 work­ers.

The Ma­ha­rash­tra labour depart­ment has pro­posed that the ex­emp­tion be ex­tended to fac­to­ries with fewer than 300 work­ers, a rule al­ready in place in some states, in­clud­ing Ra­jasthan and Haryana. How­ever, the pro­posal fur­ther sug­gests that fac­to­ries with 300 or more work­ers be al­lowed this op­tion as well if they give 60 days’ no­tice and 60 days’ com­pen­sa­tion to work­ers for each year of con­tin­u­ous ser­vice.

Around 45% of Ma­ha­rash­tra’s fac­tory work­ers — the largest chunk — are em­ployed in fac­to­ries with 300 or more work­ers. The state has 1,365 such fac­to­ries em­ploy­ing 11.4 lakh of its 25.2 lakh fac­tory work­ers.

“This pro­posal will pro­mote ease of busi­ness. It will also be ben­e­fi­cial to work­ers be­cause they cur­rently rece- ive 15 days’ com­pen­sa­tion for ev­ery year of con­tin­u­ous ser­vice if there is a clo­sure. The pro­posal in­creases their com­pen­sa­tion,” said state labour sec­re­tary Ra­jesh Ku­mar. The state’s pro­pos­als are pat­terned on the Cen­tre’s model law.

The pro­pos­als say units with fewer than 300 work­ers will need to pay 45 days’ com-

TOI/For rep­re­sen­ta­tion

Though the labour re­forms are still in the pro­posal stage, unions have sounded alarm, say­ing they would un­der­mine work­ers rights

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