Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was sent to the Cellular Jail on July 4, 1911, after being sentenced to two life terms amounting to 50 years. He filed a mercy petition on August 30, which was rejected on September 3.
A year later, he filed a second mercy petition on October 29, which was again rejected. In October 1913, home member of the viceroy's executive council, Sir Reginald Craddock, visited the Cellular Jail. He met Savarkar, who is said to have submitted a mercy plea in which he described himself as the “prodigal son” eager to return “to the parental doors of the Government”.
He renewed the appeal on September 10, 1914, which was turned down on December 1. For the next three years, Savarkar personally did not file any petitions. On October 2, 1917, he placed a fresh plea before the government. However, nothing came out of it. He waited for more than two years before seeking royal clemency on January 4, 1920, renewing his appeal on March 30.
Between 1915 and 1919, Savarkar’s wife, Yamunabai, filed three petitions on his behalf before the Bombay government. He was finally released on July 4, 1921.
Savarkar's next run-in with the law was in 1934. Two of his followers, Wamanrao Chavan and Gajanan Damle, allegedly fired at a sergeant. On being arrested along with them, Savarkar wrote to the Bombay government claiming innocence. “I have nothing to do with the boys, Waman Chavan and Gajanan Damle; the latter had been arrested because Chavan had kept his trunk at his place.... I am prepared to cease taking part in any agitation, social or political, without the previous sanction of the Government,” he wrote.
Savarkar was arrested again following Gandhi's assassination on January 30, 1948. He wrote to the commissioner of police on February 22: “I wish to express my willingness to give an undertaking to the Government that I shall refrain from taking part in any communal or political public activity for any period the Government may require in case I am released on that condition.”
Yet, he faced a trial but was acquitted because of lack of corroborative evidence. On July 13, 1950, Savarkar gave a voluntary undertaking through his lawyer K.N. Dharap to a Bombay High Court bench comprising Chief Justice M.C. Chagla and Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar: “I would not take any part whatever in political activity and would remain in house in Bombay.”