The Madras High Court on Friday granted one month parole to S. Nalini Sriharan who is India’s longest-serving woman prisoner, convicted in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
A division bench of Justice MM Sundaresh and Justice M Nirmal Kumar granted a 30-day ordinary leave to Nalini after she argued her plea in person for seeking the relief to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding.
The Madras High Court had on June 25 allowed Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict S Nalini to argue her parole case in person and ordered the Vellore Central Prison authorities to produce her on July 5.
However, the relief came in with the condition that Nalini would not give interviews to media, not entertain politicians and observe all other regulations listed under the Tamil Nadu Prison Manual.
The judges directed the Tamil Nadu government to finalise the process for her release within ten days. It also asked the government to bear the expenses for providing escorts to her as she had no means to pay for the facility on account of her incarceration for over 27 years.
Nalini, who is lodged in the Special Prison for Women in Vellore for the last over 27 years, had sought six months leave to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. However, State Public Prosecutor A Natarajan submitted that according to rules a grant of leave for a maximum period of 30 days is permissible.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated at Sriperumbudur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu in May 1991 and a special court for Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) cases had sentenced Nalini, who was then the only surviving accused present in the assassination, and other convicts to death in January 1998.
The Supreme Court had confirmed the capital punishment in May 1999, however, the punishment was commuted to life sentence by the State government in April 2000.
In an affidavit filed in support of her petition, the convict stated that since April 2000, over 3,700 life convicts were released from various prisons in the State on completion of 10 years of incarceration but she was not accorded the same benefit.
On September 9, 2018, the State Cabinet recommended the release of all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case by according them the benefit of a 1994 Government Order, which provides for the release of prisoners after 20 years.
The BJP-led central government did not agree to their release and informed the court that it would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ and have ‘international ramifications’.
The recommendation is still pending with the Governor.
Nalini is one of the seven life convicts in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The other six are V Sriharan alias Murugan, husband of Nalini, AG Perarivalan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran.