Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. (Photo: IANS)
The Madras High Court Tuesday granted permission to Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, to appear in person on July 5 and argue on her plea for six months ordinary leave to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. A division bench of Justice M M Sundaresh and Justice M Nirmal Kumar gave her permission to appear in person on July 5 at 2.15 pm to argue her case.
Nalini, who has been in prison for over 27 years, wanted the court to direct the superintendent of police, Special Prison for Women in Vellore, to produce her before the court so that she could argue her case for leave as party-in-person. The court had on June 11 observed that the right of Nalini to appear in person to argue on her plea cannot be denied.
According to Nalini, a life convict is entitled to one-month leave once in two years and since she had never availed such ordinary leave for more than 27 years, she made a representation to prison authorities on February 25 seeking six-month leave to make arrangement for her daughter’s marriage.
Subsequently, Nalini’s mother also made a similar representation on March 22. As the authorities failed to consider her representation, she moved the high court. Nalini was initially sentenced to death for her involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. However, her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Tamil Nadu government on April 24, 2000.
She claimed that after commutation of her death sentence, around 3,700 life convicts, who had served 10 years of imprisonment and less, were released by the Tamil Nadu government.
“My request to the state for premature release under the 1994 scheme of premature release of life convicts was cleared by the council of ministers and on September 9, 2018, the council advised the governor to release me and other six life convicts in the case. But it has been over six months and the decision of the state is still yet to be implemented,” she had submitted.
The AIADMK government had adopted a resolution recommending Governor Banwarilal Purohit the release of seven convicts—Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini—serving life terms.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami had said his government was committed to the release of the convicts and expressed hope the governor would act on the cabinet recommendation for setting them free.
His statement came amid renewed calls, both from the opposition and Tamil groups, for the release of the convicts, after the Supreme Court disposed of a plea of the relatives of those killed along with Rajiv Gandhi opposing their release. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a LTTE suicide bomber during an election rally at Sriperumpudur near here on May 21, 1991.