The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to submit within four weeks the latest status report on its inquiry into an allegedly larger conspiracy behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, PTI reported. The court said the latest report of the CBI’s Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency is a year old, and at that time, response was awaited on several Letters Rogatory sent to foreign countries.

Letters Rogatory, or letters of request, are a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance.

The monitoring agency was set up in 1998 on the recommendations of Justice MC Jain Commission of Inquiry, which had investigated the possibility of a conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi. The agency is headed by a CBI officer and also comprises officers from the Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau, Revenue Intelligence and other agencies.

“Latest status report be filed in four weeks,” the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the monitoring agency. “List the matter after four weeks.” The court also said that the latest report should include status of Letters Rogatory sent to Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries.

The court made the ruling after hearing a petition by AG Perarivalan, who has sought suspension of his life sentence in the case until the monitoring agency’s investigation into the matter is finished.

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, when an operative of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam named Gayatri set off an RDX-laden belt she wore under her belt. The LTTE was seeking revenge for the Indian government’s decision to send troops to Sri Lanka to help the island-country fight the Tamil separatists. Perarivalan was one of the those convicted in the case.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Perarivalan, said that the convict’s offence was limited to procuring nine-volt batteries, which were allegedly used in the improvised explosive device that killed Gandhi. However, Anand disputed this claim, alleging that Perarivalan’s role was not restricted to obtaining batteries.

On March 14, 2018, the Supreme Court had asked the monitoring agency to file a status report in four weeks with regard to the status of a LR sent to Sri Lanka, for examining an accused named Nixon alias Suren. Nixon is currently lodged in a jail in Colombo.

The top court had also dismissed Perarivalan’s plea against the May 11, 1999 verdict upholding his conviction. It said that the material brought on record before it does not inspire confidence to interfere with the verdict. Perarivalan and three others had initially been sentenced to death, but their sentence was later commuted to life terms.

The three others initially sentenced to death were Murugan, Santham and Nalini Sriharan. In September, the Madras High Court had rejected Nalini’s plea for early release.

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