After serving 24 years in prison, Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, will shortly file a petition in the Madras High Court seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution of India, according to her lawyer.
This comes after the Supreme Court’s ruling early this month that the Central government, and not the State, has the “primacy” in deciding the release of persons convicted under a Central law and in cases investigated by the CBI.
It was delivering its verdict on the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release seven life convicts, including Nalini, her husband Murugan and Perarivalan, in the case.
On Saturday, the advocates of 48-year-old Nalini met her at the Special Prison for Women, Vellore.
“We are planning to file a petition in the Madras High Court shortly seeking release of Nalini under Article 161 of the Constitution,” said M. Radhakrishnan, counsel for Nalini.
According to Article 161, the Governor of the State shall have the power to grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extend.
In the affidavit, Nalini, pointed out that after her death sentence in the case was commuted to life imprisonment in 2000, about 2,200 life convicts who had served 10 years of imprisonment and less were released by the State government under Article 161. However, she had not been considered for premature release on the ground that her case fell under Section 435 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
She said the State government had framed a scheme of premature release of life convicts who had completed 20 years of imprisonment on humanitarian grounds under Article 161. Some of the life convicts who had completed 20 years had been released.
Nalini had made the representation under this scheme on February 22, 2014 to for premature release, but no decision was taken.
Mr. Radhakrishnan pointed out that the release of a prisoner under Article 161 does not necessitate the Central government’s consent or concurrence.
The Council of Ministers should recommend a prisoner’s release. The Governor will release him/her based on their advice, he said.
Nalini said that the government’s failure to decide on the representation within a reasonable time would violate Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The advocate said Nalini was upset by the Supreme Court’s verdict. “However, we spoke to her and made her confident,” he said.
According to it the Governor has the power to grant pardon, reprieve,
or remission of punishment