The National Commission for Women is yet to receive a formal request for release from jail from Nalini Sriharan, one of the seven people convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, but it is seeking legal opinion on the matter.
Nalini and the other convicts have been incarcerated for the past 26 years.
Rajiv Gandhi and several others, including security personnel and party workers, were killed as a suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist blew herself up after the then prime minister arrived in Sriperumbudur village to address an election rally in May 1991.
According to reports, Nalini sent a written appeal to the NCW, requesting it to facilitate her release. About 2,200 women prisoners were released on compassionate grounds in Tamil Nadu between 2001 and 2008.
However, the NCW claims to not have received any communication so far.
“We are yet to receive any communication from Nalini and have been only seeing reports in media,” NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam told Hindustan Times. “But even then, I have sought opinion from legal luminaries to ascertain whether the commission has the mandate to look into an issue over which the Supreme Court has already taken a view.”
Nalini has been trying to secure her release on the grounds that she has spent over two decades in jail.
In her latest memorandum, reportedly sent to the NCW on Saturday, Nalini wondered if she would ever be able to live a normal life and meet her daughter, who lives abroad.
“Will I be able to fix the marriage of my daughter,” she is said to have asked in her appeal.
The issue of the fate of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins takes on emotional undertones in the state, as pro-Tamil parties whip up sentiments at every available opportunity. Incidentally, the Tamil Nadu government had, using its powers of remission, decided to release all the seven convicts in February 2014, but this move was blocked by the Central government.
The Supreme Court later stepped in and a Constitution bench ruled that a state government did not have suo motu powers to remit sentences of persons convicted under a central law and cases investigated by a central agency such as the CBI.
The Supreme Court also ruled that a life sentenced is for life.
The issue was revived again before the 2016 general elections, with the Tamil Nadu government writing to the Centre, seeking its view on the release of the seven convicts. The central government, however, once again rejected the proposal.
Nalini has been exploring various avenues for her release and had pinned her hopes on chief minister J Jayalalithaa. She appealed to the CM, following which the Tamil Nadu government wrote to the central government in March this year.