TN Governor seeks review of list to release prisoners

TN Governor seeks review of list to release prisoners

In an embarrassment to the Tamil Nadu government, Governor Banwarilal Purohit has refused to accept in entirety the list of prisoners to be released prematurely on the occasion of late chief minister M G Ramachandran's (MGR) centenary year.

Instead, the pro-active governor, who has held review of developmental projects in district headquarters, has called for a case by case review of the life convicts whose names were recommended by the state government.

The state government had in January decided to prematurely release 1,700 prisoners who have completed more than 10 years in jail on the occasion of MGR's 100th birth anniversary.

The 1,700 figure, sources said, was arrived at since the matinee idol was born on January 17.

The governor, who is vested with powers to grant sanction for the prisoner's release, has told Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi and Director General of Police T K Rajendran during a meeting on Sunday that he wants the cases to be individually examined before deciding on providing amnesty to the convicts.

Confirming the development, Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam told DH that the governor's advice will be followed.

"The governor has asked for a review. He wants a case by case review of the convicts. We will go by the governor's advice and there is nothing wrong in him advising us on this issue," he said.

The minister dismissed suggestions that the governor's advice was an interference on his part in the functioning of an elected government. It has been the practice of successive governments in Tamil Nadu to release prisoners on the occasion of birth anniversaries of leaders like Periyar E V Ramasamy.

Despite protests from the Opposition, Purohit has been continuing with his review meetings in district headquarters with officials on various projects. Though the state government has not objected to such visits, the Opposition has been raising hue and cry over the issue.

The principal Opposition party, the DMK, used the opportunity to hit out at the AIADMK and accused it of "surrendering the rights of an elected government" to an appointed governor.

"It is the government's prerogative and the governor cannot interfere. But this AIADMK government will allow the governor to do all sort of things because of their fear of the BJP,"   said Durai Murugan, DMK's deputy floor leader in the state Assembly.

However, Constitutional expert and former Lok Sabha Secretary-General Subhash Kashyap told DH that the governor is empowered to seek a review or even reject the recommendation.

"Legally, the governor has the right to ask for a review. He can ask for review of such decision and the law has empowered him to do so," he said.

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