Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: Nalini Sriharan Moves HC Again


Chennai: Nalini Sriharan, undergoing life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, on Monday again moved the Madras High Court seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu government to consider her representation for premature release.

Nalini, now confined in the Special Prison for Women in Vellore, submitted that she has undergone imprisonment for more than 24 years. She was first awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court and subsequently Tamil Nadu government under Article 161 of the Constitution commuted her sentence to life on 24 April, 2000.

Stating that about 2,200 life convicts who had served 10 years of sentence had been released by Tamil Nadu, she said it had not considered her release on the ground that her case falls under a different section of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

She submitted that the Tamil Nadu government has framed a scheme of premature release of life convicts who had completed 20 years of actual imprisonment. A government order was also passed on 10 November, 1994 even under which she was not considered for release, she said.

Claiming that she is eligible to be considered for premature release under this scheme, Nalini submitted that she had made a representation on 22 October, 2014 to the state government to consider her premature release but government was yet to decide on the representation.

She sought a direction from the court to decide on her representation within a reasonable time. Nalini was sentenced to death by the trial court in the case on 28 January, 1998. Her sentence was commuted to life term by the Tamil Nadu governor on 24 April, 2000.

The seven convicts are Robert Pious, V Sriharan, Santhan, Jaya Kumar, Arivu, Nalini and Ravichandran. The Centre had in 2014 contended that the TN government can’t release the convicts without its approval and had opposed the state government’s decision to release them.

After the apex court had commuted the death sentences of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, the state government had on 19 February, 2014 proposed to remit the sentences of all seven lifers, including the three, and release them.

This decision was challenged by the Centre before the Supreme Court which had stayed it and referred it to a Constitution Bench. The court had on 20 February stayed the decision to release Murugan, Santhan and Arivu — whose sentence was commuted to life by it on 18 February — saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the state government on the decision to release them.

It had later on also stayed the release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran in the case. Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in Central Prison, Vellore, and they have been in jail since 1991. The other four are also servng life term for their role in assassinating Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.