Was there a ‘larger conspiracy’ behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi? Who were the ‘real conspirators’? These are the questions that A.G. Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the case, has been asking the courts for almost two decades.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court took up his cause and sought a reply from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Perarivalan’s allegations that there has not been an effective probe into the “larger conspiracy” behind the 1991 killing of the national leader.
A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and L. Nageshwara Rao issued notice to the CBI on a petition filed by the convict from the Vellore prison in Tamil Nadu.
“Why was this further investigation required?” Justice Gogoi asked initially during the hearing.
“What was followed by the CBI was a ‘boom theory.’ That is there is a death, followed by an investigation into the boom and trial focusing only on the boom. But they have also to go into whether there was a larger conspiracy... It is this question which requires investigation,” senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan and advocate Pirabu Subramanian, representing Perarivalan, responded.
"So the boom is over, the trial is over and now you say there is still something more to it?" Justice Gogoi asked.
"Yes, the TADA Court had said there was more to it. It had asked the CBI to investigate who the real conspirators were," Mr. Dhavan responded.
The story of the 'larger conspiracy' angle started in 1998 when the Justice M.C. Jain Commission of Inquiry (JCI) recommended further probe into “various conspiraciesbehind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi”.
After placing the recommendation before the parliament, the government set up a Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) in the CBI to follow up on Jain Commission's work.
In July 1999, the designated TADA Court allowed the MDMA to probe the larger conspiracy angle. However, in 2013, Perarivalan complained to the TADA Court that the probe was both “feeble and pandering”. But the TADA court dismissed the plea.
A subsequent appeal in the Madras High Court to direct the TADA Court to effectively monitor the investigation was not entertained in 2015.
He claimed that the TADA court had not even deemed it necessary to open the several probe reports filed before it in sealed covers.
In his petition before the Supreme Court, Perarivalan condemned the almost two-decade-long CBI investigation, which he said was cloaked in secrecy.