The Madras High Court on Friday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition by Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, claiming that she was being illegaly detained in Vellore prison from September 10, 2018.
In her habeas corpus petition, she submitted that she was illegally detained as the Governor of Tamil Nadu had not acted on September 9, 2018 advice of the council of ministers to release her.
The division Bench, comprising Justices R Subbiah and R Pongiappan, before which the HCP came up, issued notice to the Additional Public Prosecutor and posted the matter for further hearing to January 7, 2020.
Nalini referred to the Maru Rams case in 1980, in which a Constitution Bench held that the advice of the state government under Article 161 of the Constitution would be binding on the head of the state.
She contended that as the power under Article 161 (power of the Governor to grant pardons and suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases), has already been exercised by Tamil Nadu, the Governor has no discretion, but to act on the September 2018 advice of the council of ministers.
Earlier this year, Nalini had moved the Court, seeking directions to Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to release all the seven convicts as per the decision of the Tamil Nadu government cabinet in 2018, recommending their release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
However, the High Court had dismissed her petition.
The petitioner submitted that since she had not been released as per the advice of the council of ministers, her continuous detention was illegal and violative of Article 14 (equality before law) and 21 (Protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution.
Nalini and her husband Murugan, besides five other convicts, are undergoing life imprisonment in the case related to the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near here on May 21, 1991.