The Supreme Court has declined to interfere with an order of the Madras High Court dismissing a habeas corpus petition seeking the release of Nalini and six others sentenced to death or awarded life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

After hearing counsel R. Karuppan, a Bench of Justices V.S. Sirpurkar and Mukundakam Sharma permitted the appellant to withdraw the special leave petition against the April 28 judgment of the High Court. In a brief order, the Bench said “The prayer made [for withdrawal of the petition] is accepted. The special leave petition is dismissed as withdrawn.”

Besides Nalini, those whose release was sought are her husband Murugan alias Sriharan, Santhan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar, Ravi and Arivu. While Murugan and two others are facing the death sentence, Nalini is among the four convicts serving a life term.

The High Court imposed Rs. 1 lakh in costs on the petitioner, E. Veluchamy. It held that there was no legal basis for him to describe the seven as ‘detenus' as they were not detained under any preventive detention law, but were convicts serving their sentences, awarded by the Supreme Court, after having exhausted all legal remedies available to them. “No provision of law permits a third party to file any petition for any relief on behalf of such accused persons, except the accused himself,” the High Court held.

In his SLP in the Supreme Court, Mr. Veluchamy said the real culprits had not been brought to book.

He said the SLP raised an important question of law: whether the CBI's Multidisciplinary Monitoring Agency was right in not informing the Supreme Court, when it was hearing the case of the accused, of a further probe ordered by the Jain Commission of Inquiry against 21 others.