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Madras HC directs Tamil Nadu Government to respond to Rajiv assassination convict Nalini’s plea

- October 1, 2021

Chennai, Oct 1 (BPNS)

The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Tamil Nadu government to respond to the writ petition filed by the  Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict S. Nalini to release her from prison without a nod from Tamil Nadu Governor.

In her petition, Nalini requested the court to declare unconstitutional, the governor’s ‘failure’ to release her by acting upon a recommendation made by the state cabinet on September 9, 2018, in favour of all live convicts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Advocate M. Radhakrishnan appearing for Nalini contended that the Governor is bound to act as per the directive of the state cabinet and not vice versa.

The first bench of the Madras high court comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Adikesvalu ordered the state government to file a counter-affidavit after the Dushera holidays.

Nalini has in an affidavit filed through her counsel sought a direction to the state government to release her without waiting for the nod of the Governor.

In her petition, Nalini said that she was originally sentenced to a death sentence by the trial court on January 28, 1998, and the Supreme court had also confirmed the death penalty on May 11, 1999. She said that her death penalty was commuted to life sentence under Article 161 that gives the Governor power to suspend, remit or commute sentences. She said that her death penalty was commuted to life sentence on April 24, 2000.

She contended that around 3800 convicts who had served ten-year prison terms were released after ten years under Article 161 for their good conduct and added that she became eligible for such a premature release in 2001 itself she was not released. She said that the prosecution had then contended that her case was under CBI investigation.

The Rajiv Gandhi assassination case Convict in her petition also stated that she should have been released on September 10, 2018, after the council of ministers had made a recommendation to release her in the cabinet meeting held on September 9, 2018.  She said that the Governor was yet to take a decision in this matter.

The petitioner also contended that her two earlier petitions, one seeking a direction to the government to implement the Cabinet decision and the other for the Governor to countersign the recommendation were dismissed on August 20, 2019.

Nalini in her petition said that she has filed a third petition in the Madras High Court seeking a writ of declaration that the Governor’s “failure” to act in accordance with the recommendation was unconstitutional.