Rajiv case convict Robert Payas seeks visa for his wife

HC grants a week’s time to Union Ministry of External Affairs to file its counter affidavit

Published - March 14, 2020 01:32 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Friday granted a week’s time to the Centre to file its counter affidavit to a writ petition filed by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict B. Robert Payas, 50, seeking grant of visa to his wife for travelling from Sri Lanka to India.

After hearing preliminary submissions made by Senior Counsel R. Shunmugasundaram representing the petitioner, Justice K. Ravichandrabaabu accepted a request made by Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan to grant time till March 20 for filing the counter.

In his affidavit, the petitioner said his wife R. Prema and he had come to India on September 20, 1990, as Sri Lankan refugees. Then, she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy at a private nursing home in Chetpet here February 6, 1991. The couple named the child Tamilko.

On June 10, 1991, the petitioner was arrested in connection with the assassination and was sentenced to death by the trial court along with 25 others. On May 11, 1999, the Supreme Court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment while partly allowing his appeal.

A majority of three judges in the Bench acquitted him from the charges under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act of 1987 and confirmed his conviction only for the charge of Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Set at liberty

Significantly, “Justice D.P. Wadhwa, the fourth judge in the Bench in fact, in his minority opinion, acquitted me from all the charges and set me at liberty,” the petitioner said and stated that his wife and child had returned to Sri Lanka in 1993 when he was languishing in jail here.

The mother and son came to India on February 10, 2010 on being granted a visa valid for three months. They could not return before May 8, 2010, due to the war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan army.

Therefore, they got themselves registered as ‘Sri Lankan refugees -Outside the Camp’ at the office of the office of the Commissioner, Rehabilitation and Welfare and were issued registration certificates in July 2010. Within a month thereafter, they returned to Sri Lanka.

During their six months stay in India, they used to visit him in the prison every week. Their return to Sri Lanka on August 22, 2010 was fully authorised since it was the Superintendent of Police, Vellore district, who had granted the exit permit, the petitioner claimed.

Nevertheless, when Ms. Prema applied for visa at the Indian Consulate at Jaffna on November 22, 2018, she was informed orally that some criminal records were found against her. She made a request again on October 14, 2019, but there was no response till date, he said.

Denying that any criminal record exists against his wife, except the charge of having overstayed in the country in 2010, the petitioner sought a direction to the Union Ministry of External Affairs to grant visa to his wife so that she could fly down to meet him.

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