The Madras High Court on Wednesday disposed of a plea by Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who sought her premature release from prison, with a direction to the State government to consider the representation in accordance with the law subject to the outcome of the order of the Supreme Court over the issue.
“In the considered opinion of the court, unless and until W.P. (Crl) No. 48 of 2014 (Centre’s plea against the release of the convicts in the case pending in the Supreme Court) reaches finality, the prayer sought for by the petitioner cannot be granted,” Justice M. Sathyanarayanan said in the judgment.
Declining to direct the Governor to order the premature release of the convict, the judge said: “If the prayer sought for by the petitioner is granted, this court has to impliedly direct the Governor perform the constitutional functions in a particular manner and there cannot be such kind of direction...”
The Home Secretary was at liberty to consider the convict’s representation dated February 22, 2014 in accordance with law subject to the outcome of the case pending in the apex court, the judge said.
Earlier, after deciding to release the seven life convicts, including the petitioner in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the State government had sought the opinion of the Union Home Affairs Ministry since the probe into the incident was conducted by the CBI. As the Centre preferred a plea against the proposal, the apex court had observed that the State and the Centre needed to concur in the matter for the release.
When the State government wrote to the Centre again over the issue, the latter cited the pendency of the plea in the Supreme Court and turned it down. Nalini Sriharan cited her spending of more than 25 years in prison and sought her premature release.