Murugan, whose death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was commuted to life by the Supreme Court on Tuesday and his wife Nalini, A-1 in the case whose death sentence was commuted to life by the Tamil Nadu Governor in 2000 have expressed their desire to stay with their daughter Harithra who is studying in London, according to P. Pugazhendhi, counsel for the convict couple.

Talking to newspersons after meeting Murugan in the Central Prison for Men and Nalini in the Special Prison for Women here on Wednesday in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict and the state government’s decision on Wednesday to release all the seven convicts in the case, Mr. Pugazhendhi said that both Murugan and Nalini were extremely happy about the developments, and were thankful to the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and to all political parties and organisations which fought for their release. “They were confident that they would be released,” he said in reply to a question.

The advocate said that Murugan and Nalini had expressed their desire to stay in Vellore after their release and make arrangements for their foreign trip to stay with their daughter Harithra. He said the inmates of both the Central Prison (for Men) and the Special Prison for Women here exchanged pleasantries with the Rajiv Gandhi case convicts in the respective prisons and congratulated them on their impending release. He said he could not meet Santhan who was in meditation from 3 p.m. to 5.30 p.m., and Perarivalan who was in a mood of bonhomie with the fellow inmates.

Asked whether there was a possibility of the central government refusing permission for the release of the convicts, Mr. Pugazhendhi said that while the Chief Minister announced in the Assembly that the State government would release them under section 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the State government also decided to seek permission of the Central government to effect the release, since the Centre’s nod was required under section 435 Cr.P.C. in cases which were investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and in cases where conviction was given based on Central Acts. However, the state government has the powers to release the convicts under section 161 of the Constitution, he said. Asked whether the government’s decision would pave the way for the release of all other death and life convicts incarcerated in various prisons in the state, the advocate said that the government could affect pre-mature release of convicts who have been in prison for more than 20 years as per a scheme introduced by the Tamil Nadu government in 1994. All human rights activists wanted the government to release all those who have been imprisoned in the eight prisons in the state for more than 20 years, he said.

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