The death-row convict claims that information is crucial to defend his case
The plea of A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu, death row convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking details of a research scholar’s visit to Vellore Central Prison in 2011 has been declined by the State government. Though the convict claimed that the information was crucial to defend his case, the Prison Department turned down his plea filed under the Right to Information Act stating that the details sought were not available in jail records.
In repeated petitions sent to the prison authorities in the last two years, Perarivalan referred to the visit of Reena Mary George to the prison on April 13, 2011, in connection with her work on death row convicts.
Seeking copies of the permission letters given to the researcher, he wanted to know on record whether Ms. George met the three condemned prisoners–Murugan alias Sriharan, Suthenthiraraja alias Santhan and him (the petitioner).
Confirming that Ms. George had visited the prison and spent about four hours, the Public Information Officer replied that there was no record of her interview details in the prison.
In his appeal, copies of which were made available to The Hindu, Perarivalan argued that it was a well known procedure that a written permission was given to those intending to visit prison for research activities and accused the PIO of giving false and misleading information.
After the second appeal was also turned down by the Additional Director-General of Prisons, who said prisoners could not be given access to prison records as per Rule 473 of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983, Perarivalan sent an appeal to the State Information Commission praying that his petitions be heard expeditiously and he be granted personal appearance to present his case.
However, the State government wrote to Perarivalan in the last week of June this year stating that it was not feasible to comply with his request. “He also sought details of mercy petitions processed by the Cabinet and referred to the Governor. The information cannot be shared with the petitioner under the provisions of the RTI Act,” an official in the Home Department said.