Prison authorities had opposed leave for Nalini on February 11

Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa’s announcement about the State government’s decision to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has raised eyebrows in view of the stand taken by the prison authorities before the Madras High Court on February 11.

They had strongly opposed the one month’s leave sought by Nalini to visit her ailing father in Tirunelveli district.

The authorities had stated that Nalini’s father, Sankaranarayanan, was normal. Quoting a police report, they even said Vikiramasingapuram in Tirunelveli district was surrounded by hills. The Lok Sabha elections were to be held soon and the “people of political parties will try to meet her (Nalini) and utilise her for their political gain and this will create a law and order problem in the area.”

The affidavit itself said the police had raised “strong objection and not recommended to release her” on leave.

Also, Nalini’s father himself had not come forward to give surety to his daughter.

“It is true that a prisoner is a human being and has fundamental rights, but that is limited to the extent, as laid down in the rules. All rules have to be followed and the instructions issued by the authorities have to be adhered to.”

The affidavit also cited six prison offences against her and the punishment awarded.

Nalini is the wife of Murugan alias Sriharan, a convict whose death penalty was commuted to one of life imprisonment by the Supreme Court.

The death sentence awarded to Nalini was commuted to life imprisonment by the Tamil Nadu government on April 24, 2000.

After the Supreme Court ordered the commutation of the three convicts on death row and mentioned that the government could exercise its remission options to release them, the ruling AIADMK government decided to release the prisoners.

The sudden turn in the stand of the State government with regard to the convicts involved in a highly sensational case has surprised many, but no explanation was forthcoming.

Enquiries with the police and the State government seem to indicate that the Supreme Court verdict offered the government a chance to act ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Also, it appears that the stand taken in the Nalini case was not specifically flagged when the issue of release of the prisoners came up.

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