August 14, 2021 8:15:35 am
The Madras High Court on Friday issued notice to the Central and state governments on a plea from Nalini Sriharan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking direction for the release of all of them without waiting for the nod of the Tamil Nadu Governor.
Nalini and six others–Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Robert Payas–are serving life term in the assassination of the former Prime Minister, during a poll rally near here in May 1991.
She moved the court for a direction to the State government to release all the seven convicts in the case without waiting for the nod of the State Governor.
The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu, before which the petition came up for hearing today, ordered notice to the State and Central governments, returnable by four weeks.
By a resolution dated September 9, 2018, the K Palaniswami-led previous AIADMK cabinet had recommended to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to consider and order for the release of all the seven convicts.
As the Governor did not take a decision, Nalini and the others had filed various writ and habeas corpus petitions for direction to him to consider their plea and order their release. But the High Court had refused to issue any such direction to the Governor.
In her present petition, Nalini sought to declare as unconstitutional the Governor’s inaction and failure to heed the State’s recommendation.
She prayed for a consequential direction to the state government to release the convicts on its own without waiting for the approval of the Governor.
The recommendation of the state government is binding on the Governor and he has no other go except to order for their release. He has no discretion whatsoever but to act in accordance with the cabinet’s recommendation, she contended.
In all, about 3,800 life convicts, who had served either 10 years of imprisonment or less, were released under Article 161 of the Constitution, she pointed out.
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