The State government on Tuesday urged the Madras High Court to dismiss a writ petition filed by Nalini Sriharan, life convict in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking a direction to the Home Secretary to consider her plea for expeditious implementation of a recommendation made by the State Cabinet to the Governor on September 9, 2018, for premature release of all seven convicts in the case.
In a counter affidavit filed before Justices R. Subbiah and C. Saravanan and served on the convict’s counsel M. Radhakrishnan, the government stated that premature release of convicts was a prerogative of the government, and no life convict could claim it as a matter of right.
“It is not a matter of privilege… Hence, there is no violation of the Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution,” it said.
The government, however, acknowledged that it had forwarded a proposal for premature release of all seven convicts in the case and that it was under consideration of the Governor. The proposal was forwarded for consideration under Article 161 of the Constitution on the basis of a judgement passed by a Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on September 6, 2018, on a writ petition filed by another convict A.G. Perarivalan, it said.
In so far as the present writ petition was concerned, the government said, the petitioner was involved in the assassination of a former Prime Minister in a “barbaric” manner by plotting human bombs which claimed the lives of many others including government officials. She was convicted by a special court for bomb blast cases at Poonnamallee here on January 28, 1998, under several provisions of law.
She was also awarded death sentence for the charge of murder and it was confirmed by the Supreme Court too on October 8, 1999. Subsequently on October 17, 1999, the then Governor rejected her mercy petition. However, allowing a writ petition filed by her, the High Court on November 25, 1999, ordered reconsideration of the plea for mercy. It was only thereafter, her punishment was commuted to life sentence on April 24, 2000.
Since then, she had filed several cases in the High Court seeking premature release but could not succeed in any of them. Therefore, there was no reason to entertain her present plea too, said, D. Padmanabhan, Deputy Secretary, Home department, and urged the court to dismiss the writ petition.