The Madras High Court Friday granted one-month parole to Nalini Sriharan, serving a life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case after she argued in person that she needed the time to make arrangements for her daughter's wedding. A division bench of justices M M Sundaresh and M Nirmal Kumar directed Nalini to furnish sureties in compliance with Rule 25 of Prison Rules, apart from providing details about the place where she'll be staying, within a week from the date of receipt of its order.
After due verification, she will be released on ordinary leave for 30 days and she will have to surrender before jail authorities at 5 pm on the next day after the end of the period, it said. It ordered Nalini not to give any interviews and not to meet any political person or member of any organization while out on parole and recorded her undertaking to this effect.
Nalini, lodged in the Special Prison for Women in Vellore for the last 27 years, had sought six months' leave to make arrangements for the marriage of her daughter. She is the second convict in the high-profile case to get ordinary leave. Earlier in August 2017, the state government had granted one month parole to Perarivalan and later extended it by another one month in view of his ailing father's condition.
Perarivalan, Nalini, her husband Murugan, a Sri Lankan national, and four others are serving life imprisonment in the case related to the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE suicide bomber during an election rally at Sriperumpudur near here on May 21, 1991. Earlier, Nalini was brought to the court amid tight security in compliance with the June 25 order of the bench granting her permission to appear in person and argue on her petition.
Making her submissions by reading out from a prepared text, Nalini told the court that except giving birth to her daughter, she had never spent time with her, unlike a normal mother, in view of her imprisonment for over 27 years. Public Prosecutor A Natarajan said the Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules 1982 provides for a maximum period of 30 days as ordinary leave (parole) for a convict at a point of time and hence, the court can consider granting leave within the maximum limit.
The bench in its order said the fact that the petitioner had an unmarried daughter aged about 27 years, who could not live with parental guidance, was not in dispute. Noting that Rule 22 speaks about an extension of 30 days' leave, the court said it, however, can be exercised after the initial grant.
Taking judicial notice of the state government's recommendation to the governor for her premature release, the bench said it can infer that her conduct was otherwise not adverse. "Considering the request and taking note of the fact it is the first time the petitioner seeks ordinary leave coupled with the fact that some similarly placed persons have been granted ordinary leave and in the light of recommendation made by the state government itself, we are inclined to grant the petitioner 30 days ordinary leave," it said.
The bench allowed Nalini's request that the state bear the cost of her escort during the leave period, saying that she and her husband were in jail for decades and had no means to pay for it.
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