Tamil Nadu

RTI gifts freedom to life convict

Had he not petitioned the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), M.R. Shanmugasundaram would have spent the rest of his life in Tiruchi Central Prison.

Shanmugasundaram, an Indian national, was convicted under the provisions of the Poison, Opium and Dangerous (Amended) Act in a case of drug offence and awarded the death sentence by the Negombo High Court (Sri Lanka) in 1994.

The punishment was commuted to life sentence through a presidential pardon and then to 25 years in prison.

Under a SAARC exchange agreement, Shanmugasundaram was transferred to Tiruchi Central Prison in 2013.

A couple of months before he completed 25 years in prison (taking the remand period into consideration), he pressed jail officials for his release. However, the authorities maintained that there was no record to facilitate his release and he had to undergo imprisonment for life.

Left with no other option, Shanmugasundaram sent a petition under the Right to Information Act to the MHA to know the status of his imprisonment in Tiruchi Central Prison.

When the matter was referred to the Ministry of External Affairs, the officials wrote back to the convict, stating that the information sought by him should be obtained from the Tamil Nadu government. However, the MEA also sought a clarification from Sri Lankan prison authorities.

After it was confirmed that Shanmugasundaram’s claims were true and that his imprisonment was commuted to 25 years, the MHA informed the State government that the convict was entitled to release.

“Based on a specific order from the MHA, we released Shanmugasundaram from Tiruchi Central Prison recently.

Since there were no records here on the period of his imprisonment, we got it clarified through proper channel,” a senior prison official said.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 11:48:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/rti-gifts-freedom-to-life-convict/article6575663.ece

Next Story