A mobile phone was seized from Nalini Sriharan — the life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case lodged in the Special Prison for Women at Vellore, Tamil Nadu — early on Tuesday.
While referring the SIM card to intelligence agencies for analysis, jail authorities are also contemplating action against the inmate under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Prison Manual.
During a special check, a team led by Jail Superintendent Rajalakshmi conducted a search at around 6.20 a.m. in the ‘Casual Block,' where Nalini is lodged. One of the woman warders found the phone while checking a cloth bag. Nalini refused to reveal its source.
Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons) K.R. Shyamsundar said the possession of a mobile phone was an offence under the provisions of the Manual.
“Under Section 298, the mobile phone is listed under the contraband articles. Section 300 prescribes major and minor punishments. If found guilty, the major punishments include hard labour, forfeiture of remission and reduction to lower class. Nalini is presently lodged in an ‘A' class cell,” Mr. Shyamsundar told The Hindu here on Tuesday.
He added that the phone seized from Nalini was “active.”
“A detailed report is awaited from the Jail Superintendent. We will take a decision on the action to be taken after perusing the report. We have ordered an enquiry as to how the convict got the mobile phone. Once the source of the mobile phone is known, appropriate action will be taken against those responsible,” Mr. Shyamsundar said.
A prison official said that soon after the phone was seized, prison authorities conducted a search in the cell of her husband Murugan, also a convict in the case and lodged in the Vellore Central Prison. However, he refused to divulge details of the seizures made.
Parrying questions on whether the violation of prison manual conditions would affect Nalini's efforts to get a premature release, the official said that some of the vital aspects considered for premature release were the social history of the prisoner, circumstances of criminal behaviour, conduct in prison, degree of criminality, and possibility of his/her re-settlement on premature release.
According to a source in the State intelligence, no complaint was preferred by prison authorities on the seizure of the phone till Tuesday evening. Preliminary investigation revealed that Nalini was using the phone for many weeks.
“Apart from calls, many text messages [SMS] were sent or received on the mobile phone. Investigation is on to find out in whose name the SIM card was taken and whether any international calls were made,” a senior police official said.