Rajiv case convict Nalini to be granted parole 

The Madras High Court on Friday granted one month parole to Nalini Sriharan, serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, after she argued her plea in person for seeking the relief to make arrangements for her daughter's wedding. File photo

Nalini Sriharan, India’s longest-serving woman prisoner who was convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, will be granted 30-day parole to arrange for her daughter’s marriage, the Madras High Court ruled on Friday.

The court granted 30 days' holiday to Nalini, whose death sentence was commuted to life in 2000 by the Tamil Nadu government while accepting the state administration’s argument that the demand for six-month parole by the life convict cannot be accepted.

A division bench of Justices M M Sundaresh and M Nirmal Kumar gave the order after Nalini appeared in person before the court. The division bench had last month ordered authorities at the Vellore Central Prison to produce Nalini before the court on July 5.

The order came on a plea by Nalini, who wanted to argue her case personally. She had sought six months of ordinary leave to plan for her daughter’s wedding. Nalini, her husband Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and three others are serving life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This is the first time Nalini would come out on parole after having spent 28 years in prison.

Nalini is the longest-serving women prisoner in India who has been in jail since 1991. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur, 50 kms from here, on May 21, 1991 during an election campaign meeting.

While granting 30-day parole, the bench made it clear that Nalini should not interact or give interviews to media or meet political leaders. The bench also directed authorities in the prison to process Nalini’s application within 10 days.

Arguing that a life convict is entitled to one month's leave once in two years, Nalini had told the court she had made a representation to prison authorities in February seeking six-month leave since she had never availed such ordinary leave for 28 years. After having waited for more than a month, Nalini moved the high court seeking its intervention. 

Nalini was initially sentenced to death for her involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, but it was commuted to life imprisonment by the Tamil Nadu government on April 24, 2000, following a representation by Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia Gandhi.

Release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is an emotive issue in Tamil Nadu with the state cabinet passing a resolution seeking their release. The file is pending before Governor Banwarilal Purohit.

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