Madras HC rejects Nalini's plea for early release

Madras HC rejects Nalini's plea for early release


Nalini Sriharan is serving a life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The Madras High Court on Friday rejected a plea by Nalini Sriharan, who is serving a life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking premature release from jail as the Supreme Court is seized of the issue.

The division bench of Justices K K Sasidharan and R Subramanian asked Nalini, whose death sentence was commuted to life term following demand by Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia, to wait for the outcome of the matter in the apex court.

The bench was hearing an appeal by Nalini challenging the order of a single judge who rejected her prayer for premature release under a 1994 state government scheme based on Article 161 (powers of the governor to grant pardon).

“The bench is in full agreement with the views expressed by the learned single judge,” the division bench said in its order on Friday.

Nalini approached the court after the Tamil Nadu government rejected her petition seeking premature release citing pendency of a similar matter in the Supreme Court. She had contended that she has served more than 25 years in prison and that she was eligible for premature release on the grounds of good conduct during her jail term.

The Supreme Court had in a 2015 order made it clear that the concurrence of the Union government was required in cases handled by central agencies such as the CBI for premature release pleas under Section 435 of the CrPc.

During arguments before the bench, Nalini's counsel Radhakrishnan said the Supreme Court order was connected with Nalini's case since she has sought premature release under Article 161.

The Centre and Tamil Nadu government have been locked in a bitter battle on the release of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

While the state government claims it has the authority to take a decision on their release, the Centre says the power vests with it since the case was investigated by the CBI.

The battle began after the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of three others - Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan - to a life term in 2014 citing delays in executing them.

After the verdict, the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa decided to release all convicts in the case, but the move was thwarted by the then UPA government that secured a stay from the Supreme Court.

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