Nalini's plea for premature release: HC notice to Tamil Nadu government

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu Government on a petition by Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Nalini Sriharan, undergoing life imprisonment, seeking her premature release.

Justice M.M. Sundresh, before whom the petition came up for hearing, ordered issue of notice to the state Home Department and the Prison authorities and posted the matter for further hearing after Christmas holidays.

Nalini, serving the term in the Special Prison for women in Vellore, sought a direction to the state government to consider her October 22, 2014 representation for pre-mature release as she had already undergone imprisonment for more than 24 years. She was first awarded death sentence by the trial court in 1998, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court. Subsequently the Tamil Nadu government under Article 161 of the Constitution commuted it to life imprisonment on April 24, 2000.

She said the state government had in the past released about 2,200 life convicts who had served 10 years of sentence but did not consider her plea on the ground that her case fell under a different section of Code of Criminal Procedure.

Nalini claimed that she was also eligible to be considered for release under a state government scheme wherein life convicts who had completed 20 years of imprisonment were granted premature release. She sought a direction from the court to decide on her representation within a reasonable time.

In all, seven persons, including Nalini, were convicted for their role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur by an LTTE suicide bomber.

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