Full access at just Rs 3/day

Journalism of Courage
Advertisement
Premium

Nalini’s release plea: Madras HC asks state govt to check status of Rajiv Gandhi case convicts’ files

The court demanded clarity on the status of the individual files which had been lying at Raj Bhavan since September 2018, as the Nalini’s counsel prayed the court to declare the undue delay from the Governor “unconstitutional.”

Nalini Sriharan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. (PTI)

The Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the Tamil Nadu government to find out whether the state Governor had forwarded the 2018 Cabinet recommendation to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

While hearing a petition by one of the convicts, Nalini, the court asked the government to find out if the Governor had sent files only for the release of AG Perarivalan or all seven convicts.

🗞️ Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access the best Election reporting and analysis 🗞️

The court demanded clarity on the status of the individual files which had been lying at Raj Bhavan since September 2018, as the Nalini’s counsel prayed the court to declare the undue delay from the Governor “unconstitutional.” The counsel raised the prayer arguing that the Governor was committing contempt of Supreme Court orders every day by delaying a decision ever since the state government cabinet had decided to release all seven convicts who have already served three decades of rigorous punishment.

Subscriber Only Stories
Premium
Premium
Premium
Premium

On September 9, 2018, the then AIADMK cabinet had decided to release the convicts under Article 161 of the Constitution and forwarded the same for Governor’s signature. Nalini’s petition cited an order by a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Maru Ram Vs Union of India (1980), stating that the advice of the state government under Article 161 binds the Head of the State.

“In other words, the advice dated September 9, 2018, tendered by the council of ministers of the state of Tamil Nadu with regard to my release from prison binds the Governor of Tamil Nadu. When the advice is binding, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, a constitutional functionary, has no discretion whatsoever but to act immediately in accordance with the advice of the council of ministers of the state of Tamil Nadu. In other words, I ought to have been released the next day, i.e on September 10, 2018,” the petition said.

Citing four submissions filed by Nalini earlier, she said her detention in prison with effect from September 10, 2018, “became unlawful and unjustified.” The petition also said the Governor had not only violated SC orders but also “violated his oath or affirmation made and subscribed by him before entering upon his office.”

Advertisement

“The upshot is that the state government, whether the Governor likes it or not, can advise and act under Article 161, the Governor being bound by that advice. The action of commutation and release can thus be pursuant to a governmental decision and the order may issue even without the Governor’s approval although, under the Rules of Business and as a matter of constitutional courtesy, it is obligatory that the signature of the Governor should authorise the pardon, commutation or release,” the petition quoted from the Maruram case in 1980.

The petition said the state government deserves to be directed by the court “to release the petitioner under Article 161 of the constitution of India without the approval of the Governor of Tamil Nadu.”

Responding to the long delay in the governor’s decision, the Madras High Court, in July 2020, said the Governor could not sit on the state cabinet recommendation for so long. The court reminded that there is no time limit for the constitutional authority (Governor) to decide on such issues only “because of the faith and trust attached to the constitutional post.”

Advertisement

“If such authority fails to take a decision in a reasonable time, then the court will be constrained to interfere,” it said.

A submission by the Centre in the Supreme Court in November 2020 also stated that the CBI has no role in the remission while hearing a similar petition by A G Perarivalan. The SC bench also expressed displeasure in the inordinate delay in Governor’s decision and called it “extra ordinary” on January 22, 2021. However, three days later, the Raj Bhavan revealed its decision to forward the state cabinet recommendation to the Centre, stating that the President of India is “the appropriate competent authority” to deal with the remission of the sentence.

First published on: 30-03-2022 at 08:11:21 pm
Next Story

Sri Lanka suffers long power cuts, lacks foreign currency to import fuel

Home
ePaper
Next Story
close
X