Tamil Nadu

Govt. gets two weeks to reply to plea for early release of Rajiv case convicts

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Nalini seeks direction to Home Secretary to expedite action

The Madras High Court on Monday granted two weeks for the State government to file its response to a writ petition filed by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict S. Nalini, 52, now on parole, for expeditious implementation of a recommendation made by the State Cabinet to the Governor on September 9 for premature release of all the seven life convicts involved in the case.

Justices R. Subbiah and C. Saravanan granted time at the request of a government counsel although the petitioner’s counsel M. Radhakrishnan and P. Pugalenthi were keen on arguing the case on Tuesday. In her present petition, the convict sought for a direction to the Home Secretary to consider a representation made by her on February 13 and consequently implement the Cabinet recommendation immediately.

She had filed yet another writ petition seeking a direction to the Governor to “countersign” the recommendation made by the Cabinet. However, the High Court Registry refused to number that case after doubting whether a direction of such a nature could be issued against the Governor who enjoyed complete immunity, under Article 361(1) of the Constitution, from being questioned by courts with respect to discharge of official functions.

When the case was listed before the same Division Bench, led by Mr. Justice Subbiah, on July 18 for deciding its maintainability, Advocate-General Vijay Narayan argued that the Governor was insulated from being answerable to courts and that the immunity so conferred could not be intruded by the High Court by exercising its writ jurisdiction. After accepting his submission, the judges upheld the objections raised by the Registry.

The Bench said: “In this case, even assuming that the Governor of the State did not take into account the advice given by the Council of the Ministers, it will not be a ground for the petitioner to file this writ petition and contend that the protection of life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India has been infringed.”

Meanwhile, a Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and M. Nirmal Kumar on July 5 allowed a habeas corpus petition filed by the convict and granted her 30 days of ordinary leave to make arrangements for the marriage of her daughter living in London. Although she had sought six months leave on the ground that she had never availed the benefit even once in the last 28 years of her incarceration, the judges restricted it to one month.

Referring to the Cabinet recommendation for release of all seven convicts, the judges said: “If, in the view of the government, the petitioner can be allowed to lead a normal life and she would not be a hindrance to the society, the request for leave can never be objected to.” Though the order was passed on July 5, the convict could step out of prison only on July 25 due to time taken for verification of the genuineness of the sureties.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 4:44:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-gets-two-weeks-to-reply-to-plea-for-early-release-of-rajiv-case-convicts-nalini-seeks-direction-to-home-secretary-to-expedite-action/article28752691.ece

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