The accused in Rajiv assassination case challenges Section 435 Cr. PC
Nalini Sriharan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has moved the Supreme Court challenging Section 435 Cr. PC which provides for consultation with the Centre before a State government exercises its powers of remission to release a life convict.
On February 19, the Tamil Nadu government proposed to remit Nalini’s life imprisonment and release her along with six others in the case. However, the Centre filed a petition challenging this. On February 20, the court directed Tamil Nadu to maintain status quo on its decision to release Sriharan alias Murugan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu — the death sentence of all three was commuted to life term on February 18. It also stopped the release of four others — Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.
On April 25, a three-judge Bench had referred the matter for adjudication by a five-judge Constitution Bench, which is scheduled to take up from July 8 five important cases, including the issue of release of these seven convicts.
Nalini’s present petition has been filed ahead of the hearing challenging Section 435 Cr. PC. In the petition, she has said that she has been in the Special Prison for Women, Vellore, and has already served more than 23 years of imprisonment. She is awaiting premature release as per a scheme available in Tamil Nadu. But, as per Section 435 (1) (a) of the Cr.PC, a State government can do so only after consulting with the Central government if it wants to remit or commute a sentence if the investigation of the case was done by the CBI.
She has contended that every concession granted by the government should be extended to all life convicts equally. There could not be two different treatments for a single class of life convicts —viz. one, for those whose offences were investigated by the CBI and the other, for those whose offences were investigated by the State police.