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Tamil Nadu government rejects Nalini's plea for premature release

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The Supreme Court of India upheld the death sentence awarded to Nalini for her key role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991. In this picture by Haribabu, Nalini (wearing an orange coloured silk sari) is seen in the crowd, sitting next to back-up LTTE assassin Subha, minutes before the assassination. The death sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment.
The Supreme Court of India upheld the death sentence awarded to Nalini for her key role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991. In this picture by Haribabu, Nalini (wearing an orange coloured silk sari) is seen in the crowd, sitting next to back-up LTTE assassin Subha, minutes before the assassination. The death sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment.

K.T. Sangameswaran

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has rejected the request by Nalini, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, for premature release.

The decision was conveyed to a Madras High Court Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and K.K. Sasidharan on Monday by Advocate-General P.S. Raman when appeals challenging a single judge's order of 2008 on a petition on her release came up for hearing.

Mr. Raman said the Prison Advisory Board (PAB) had on January 20 this year had furnished several grounds for rejecting Nalini's request. The government, after considering the board's recommendation, accepted the reasons given and rejected the convict's request, by an order dated March 24.

In September 2008, the single judge said the PAB had not been validly convened. He said Nalini's case should be reconsidered by the board and the government should take a decision on whether she should be released prematurely or not.

Challenging this order, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and Nalini filed appeals.

Following this, the government reconstituted the PAB, with the Vellore Collector as Chairman. Nalini has been lodged in the Special Prison for Women, Vellore.

At its meeting, the board said: “Considering the social history, circumstances of criminal behaviour, degree of criminality, her case is not fit for recommendation on premature release.” The crime was heinous. She harboured the prime accused and was associated with the accused. She became part and parcel of the conspiracy to assassinate the former Prime Minister and 18 others. She assisted the assailants in killing Rajiv Gandhi, the board said.

“She has [since] acquired more educational qualifications and obtained degrees and diplomas; this does not mean that she has changed her attitude. Even now she does not admit her guilt. She has no regrets for her act.”

As for resettlement, the board said the police inspector of the Royapettah station here, in whose jurisdiction Nalini's mother lived on Gangaiamman Koil Street, had reported that the house was situated amid the residences of many VVIPs, VIPs and the American Embassy. Other important political functionaries were also there. If Nalini was released and allowed to stay with her mother, a law and order problem would arise in the locality.

In its order, the government said it considered the PAB proceedings along with other records, and decided to accept the board's recommendation.

Meanwhile, in its order, the Bench said that in view of the GO submitted to the court, it was dismissing Dr. Swamy's appeal as infructuous. Also, in view of the dismissal of the appeal, it need not consider Nalini's request, in her telegram, to permit her to appear before the court to represent her case, the Bench said. It reserved orders on Nalini's appeal.

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