Madras HC quashes bar on Rajiv case convict meeting kin

The Madras High Court on Thursday set aside restrictions imposed by jail authorities on Murugan, serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, barring him from meeting his wife and co-convict Nalini and other family members for a period of three months.

A bench of justices MM Sundresh and RMT Teekaa Raman held as not sustainable in the eyes of law the punishment imposed following alleged seizure of a mobile phone and a knife from Murugan's cell in the Vellore Prison during an inspection recently.

However, the bench refused to interfere in the decision of the prison authorities in transferring Murugan to block II which is equipped with mobile phone jammer.

"We are in agreement with the submissions of the prosecution that the decision to transfer him to another block has been made for security reason and for overall better administration. It is not as if the petitioner is alone as there are 13 other prisoners in the block," it said.

"The cell also has basic amenities... We are not inclined to interfere with the decision," the judges said in their order on a petition by Murugan's niece Thenmozhi who alleged her uncle had been kept under solitary confinement since October 19 and seeking to lift restrictions imposed on him.

However, the authorities shall review their decision in accordance with law after four months depending upon the future conduct and behaviour of the convict, the bench said.

It also recorded a statement by the petitioner's counsel that he would advise Murugan not to resort to hunger strike and held that in view of this the prayer for proper medical care to the life convict.

Thenmozhi alleged that her uncle had been kept in solitary confinement and restrained from meeting his wife and other family members in violation of the prison manual.

She also submitted that Murugan had been fasting for over 15 days in protest against the action against him.

Murugan and Nalini, besides five other convicts, are undergoing life imprisonment in the case related to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination by a suicide bomber of LTTE at a poll rally in Sriperumbudur, near here, on May 21, 1991.

 

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