New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought information from the CBI, within a week, on who made and supplied the belt-bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the larger conspiracy behind his assassination in 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
The court was hearing a petition filed by one of the life convicts, A.G. Perarivalan, sentenced for supplying a nine-volt battery for the bomb. The hearing will resume on August 23.
The petition alleged that the CBI did not probe the larger conspiracy behind the assassination despite a 1999 order of a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court in Chennai.
The CBI has more to conceal than to reveal and “is scared of the skeletons which may stumble out of their own cupboard”, it said.
The former Prime Minister’s woman assassin, identified as Dhanu, garlanded him ahead of his rally at Sriperumbudur on May 21 night. She then bent down to touch his feet and detonated an RDX explosive-laden belt tucked below her dress. The Congress leader, his assassin and 14 others were killed in the explosion.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Gupta asked the CBI, “What is the result of the re-investigation or further investigation on this aspect? Kindly address us on this. We want only this”.
Advocate Gopal Shankarnarayanan, appearing for the convict, told the bench that there were several issues, including the conspiracy behind making of the bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi, which were not investigated properly. The court accepted his submission and sought the CBI’s response.
Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh told the court that a multi disciplinary monitoring agency (MDMA) of the CBI was investigating the larger conspiracy behind the incident.
He said since the accused are all proclaimed offenders, certain extradition formalities have to be complied with.
Perarivalan said the issue of a larger angle behind the assassination came to light in 1998 when the Justice M.C. Jain Commission of Inquiry recommended further probe into “various conspiracies behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi”.
After placing the panel’s recommendation before Parliament, the government set up the MDMA for follow-up on the Jain Commission’s work. In July 1999, the TADA court allowed the MDMA to probe the larger conspiracy angle.
Perarivalan said the TADA Court had rejected his plea and the Madras high court affirmed this order. He condemned the almost two-decade-long CBI investigation, which he said was cloaked in secrecy.
“It is imminent to state that the persons benefited from the assassination would be powerful and the suspects/accused may be one among them. All these aspects cannot be based on surmises and assumptions but have to be the outcome of a thorough investigation. However, the CBI has only undertaken a feeble investigation so far in the left out aspects of the assassination,” the petitioner said.