Setback for Rajiv Gandhi case convicts, HC dismisses plea for premature release
In a setback for the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a writ petition of Nalini Sriharan, one of the convicts, seeking their premature release. The plea sought direction to the Tamil Nadu governor to act on the September 2018 recommendation of the state cabinet.
A division bench of the high court, comprising Justices R Subbiah and C Saravanan, turned down the plea. This is the second time that Nalini’s plea had been dismissed. Last month, she sought relief for herself and her petition had met the same fate.
Nalini did secure parole for a month from the court and got it extended by another three weeks and is staying in Vellore city.
This time Nalini’s prayer was that Governor Banwarlial Purohit should be directed to give his approval to the decision of the state cabinet to set free all the seven convicts, rather than sitting on it for more than 11 months.
But, the state government opposed the plea on the ground that the Governor could not be insisted upon to act immediately on the recommendation. For, it is an inherent power vested with the Governor under the Constitution, it was argued. The same arguments were advanced in the previous case as well.
The court, concurring with the view of the government, dismissed the petition.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991, by a woman LTTE suicide bomber during an election rally at Sriperumpudur near Chennai. Besides Nalini and her husband Murugan, both Sri Lankan nationals, others convicted for life in the case are Suthenthira Raja alias Santhan, another Sri Lankan citizen, AG Perarivalan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.
The Supreme Court in its verdict had left the issue of their release to the discretion of the Tamil Nadu governor. And, following this the state government passed a resolution recommending their premature release under Article 161 of the Constitution and forwarded the same to the governor for his approval.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu minister D Jayakumar expressed confidence that the governor would take a positive decision at the earliest. “We are hopeful that the governor would soon take a decision on the recommendation for the release of the seven convicts,” he told the media.