S. Vijay Kumar
“Meeting was well within rules”
Superintendent replies to an advocate’s petition
Earlier denial due to contradictions in date
CHENNAI: Putting an end to the controversy over the visit of Priyanka Vadra to the Special Prison for Women, Vellore, to meet life convict Nalini Sriharan, the Tamil Nadu Prison Department has finally confirmed that their meeting did take place on March 19.
Maintaining that it was well within the legal framework, Jail Superintendent P. Raja Soundari on April 28 wrote to a petitioner, who had sought to know about Ms. Priyanka’s visit under the Right to Information Act, that the meeting was allowed as per Rule 520, 522 and 526 of the Tamil Nadu Jail Manual (Part II).
Prison sources told The Hindu on Saturday that the Public Information officer, Government of Tamil Nadu, had forwarded the petition of an advocate to the Jail Superintendent on April 16.
The petitioner wanted to know, besides the legalities of the meeting, how long it lasted, the details of others present and the objects exchanged between Ms. Vadra and Nalini.
Stating that Ms. Vadra, daughter of Rajiv Gandhi, met life convict ‘810’ Nalini, wife of Sriharan, in prison, the jail official refused to divulge further information quoting Section 8 (1) (g) of the RTI Act.
(The section states there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security reasons.)
The official has asked the petitioner to gather such information from Nalini herself provided she is willing to meet him in prison.
In her earlier reply to the petitioner, Ms. Soundari denied that Ms. Vadra met Nalini because there were contradictions in the date mentioned in the petition. The visitors’ register at the prison had entry/exit references made to Pankaj Kumar, a Special Protection Group (SPG) official and “two others” on March 19, the sources said and added that the Priyanka-Nalini meeting was not in violation of established norms.
“There was no criminal trespass since the meeting was authorised, legal and tenable. Certain classified information need not be revealed for security reasons. Priyanka Vadra is protected by the SPG and faces a high level of threat from various outfits, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Moreover, the meeting was more of a personal nature,” a prison official added.