Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Madras HC permits Nalini to argue her plea for leave in person on July 5

Nalini Sriharan is currently serving life sentence in Vellore women prison for her involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. (File)

Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, was granted permission by the Madras High Court Tuesday to appear in person to argue for her petition requesting an ordinary leave of six months to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. The bench, comprising Justices M M Sundaresh and M Nirmal Kumar, allowed her to appear in person on July 5.

Nalini had made a representation to prison authorities in February that since her incarceration 27 years ago she had not availed the one-month leave granted to every convict every two years. After the authorities failed to consider her representation, she moved the high court.

On June 11, the court had observed that Nalini’s right to appear in person to argue on her plea cannot be denied.

Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Tamil Nadu government on April 24, 2000. The AIADMK government had adopted a resolution recommending Governor Banwarilal Purohit to release seven convicts — Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini — serving life terms.

Nalini claimed that after the 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.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami had said his government was committed to the release of the convicts and expressed hope that the Governor would act on the Cabinet recommendation for setting them free.

His statement came amid renewed calls from the Opposition 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.

With PTI inputs