The state Home Department on Tuesday informed the Madras High Court that it was up to the government to decide upon premature release of life convicts and that no such life convict can claim it as a matter of right. This was the State Home Department’s counter-affidavit to a petition from S Nalini, one of the prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Nalini had sought the release of all the convicts as per the decision of the Tamil Nadu cabinet in 2018, recommending their release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The counter filed before division bench of Justices R Subbiah and C Saravanan, also reiterated that life term meant imprisonment for life. It also stared that there is no violation under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as alleged by Nalini in her petition. The bench has adjourned the hearing to August 20.
In July this year, the Madras High Court dismissed the petition filed by Nalini and sought directions from Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a call on releasing the convicts. This recommendation is still under consideration.
A few weeks ago, Arputhammal, mother of AG Perarivalan alias Arivu, another life convict in the assassination case, met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking the release of her son.
Perarivalan— along with Nalini, Murugan, Santhan, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Jayakumar— have been in jail for 28 years after being convicted in the assassination in 1991.
In June last year, President Ram Nath Kovind had rejected the Tamil Nadu government’s plea to release the seven convicts. In September 2018, days after the Supreme Court directed Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a decision regarding the release of the seven convicts, the Tamil Nadu cabinet recommended their release to the Governor. The matter has been pending before the Governor ever since.