The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday informed the first bench of the Madras High Court that the State Governor has forwarded the entire file seeking the premature release of all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to the President for his consideration. The previous AIADMK government had in 2018 adopted a cabinet resolution recommending to the Governor the release of the seven convicts– Murugan, Santhan, AG Perarivalan, Ravichandran, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Nalini Sriharan, all serving life terms. When the writ petition from Nalini Sriharan, serving sentence at the Special Prison for Women in Vellore, seeking release even without the consent of the Governor came up for further hearing, Tamil Nadu Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram told the bench of Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy that the concerned file has been sent to the President. The submission came in response to a query raised by the bench last week in this connection. Presently, Nalini was on parole. Her counsel told the bench that the Governor has no authority to refer the matter to the President.
And the bench adjourned the matter by a week after directing the AG to ascertain the date on which the Governor had forwarded the file to the President.
Originally, the AIADMK cabinet in September, 2018, had passed a resolution and forwarded its recommendation to the then Governor Banwarilal Purohit to order the premature release of all the seven life convicts, under Article 161 of the Constitution. As there was nothing forthcoming from the Governor’s end, Nalini and others had filed several petitions in the High Court for a direction to the Governor to consider their plea. But the bench did not grant the prayer, on the ground that it could not give any such direction to the Governor, a constitutional authority.
Nalini subsequently filed the present writ petition praying the court to order her release even without the consent of the Governor.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had granted bail to Perarivalan. Hence, Nalini also prayed the High Court to apply the same yardstick adopted by the apex court and grant bail to her. But the HC did not yield and asked her to approach the Supreme Court for the relief.