Nalini’s release petition hearing adjourned to June 18

June 12th, 2008 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 12 (IANS) The Madras High Court has adjourned to June 18 its hearing on a petition by Nalini, serving a life term for her role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Nalini has been in Tammil Nadu’s Vellore jail for 17 years. Earlier this month, she has sought early release for good behaviour. Her petition is attracting notice because Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka met her in jail earlier this year.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated May 21, 1991, in Sriperumbudur on the outskirts of Chennai by cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Of the 26 people convicted in the case, four were given the death penalty. Nalini was one of the four, but her sentence was later commuted to a life term. She was convicted of protecting the assassination conspirators.

On June 9 Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy filed an impleading petition, opposing her release.

In his petition, Swamy said the Supreme Court had in several cases held that “life sentence” meant sentence for life and a convict had no right to demand premature release.

The Supreme Court of India had in Nalini’s case held that “for a person like Nalini, there is no room for any leniency, kindness and benevolence and hence the sentence of imprisonment for life is inadequate”, Swamy said, adding: “there is no apparent judicially tenable change of circumstances for any new review of the earlier stand of the government within a short period of six months, except the secret meeting between the convict and Priyanka Vadra, daughter of (Rajiv) Gandhi.”

When the case came up for hearing Thursday in the court of Justice S. Nagamuthu, Swamy’s counsel G. Rajagopal said that Swamy should be considered a party to the proceedings, “keeping in mind the welfare of society”.

The convict “does not have any inherent right” to demand premature release, he argued.

Nalini’s counsel V. Elango sought “more time” to answer Swamy’s allegations, which he described as “baseless”.

Special government pleader V. Arul, appearing for the state government and Assistant Solicitor General P. Wilson, appearing for the centre, also sought time to file a reply to Nalini’s petition.

The case was then adjourned by the judge.

Nalini, 37 has a teenage daughter. Her husband, Sriharan alias Murugan, has been sentenced to death in the same case. Nalini’s plea for release was rejected once in December 2006.

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