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Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case Convict Nalini Moves Supreme Court Seeking Premature Release

Sohini Chowdhury
11 Aug 2022 12:51 PM GMT
Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case Convict Nalini Moves Supreme Court Seeking Premature Release
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S. Nalini, convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has moved the Supreme Court seeking premature release. She has impugned the order of the Madras High Court, by which her plea for early release had been dismissed. While dismissing her plea a Division Bench of the Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala had observed that the High...

S. Nalini, convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has moved the Supreme Court seeking premature release. She has impugned the order of the Madras High Court, by which her plea for early release had been dismissed.

While dismissing her plea a Division Bench of the Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala had observed that the High Court cannot exercise powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to pass similar order as had been passed by the Supreme Court to release A.G. Perarivalan, another convict in the assassination case.

On 18th May, 2022, by invoking Article 142 of the Constitution, the Apex Court had released Perarivalan, who had served over 30 years in prison in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case. The Supreme Court was of the opined that the inordinate delay in deciding his early release plea by the Governor under Article 161 warranted his release.

Stating that the special power under Article 142 is exclusively conferred upon the Apex Court, the High Court suggested if Nalini was seeking release in terms of the order in A.G. Pervarivalan's matter, she could move the Apex Court.

Before the High Court Nalini had contended that by failing to act at the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers that had recommended her release, the Tamil Nadu Governor had acted ultra vires. She had beseeched the High Court to issue directions to the State Government to release her from the prison without the approval of the Governor of Tamil Nadu. It was asserted that Nalini became eligible for premature release in 2001 itself, but has not been released till date.

After making multiple representations to the concerned authorities, finally, on 09.09.2018, the Council of Ministers of the State of Tamil Nadu had advised the Governor to release her. However, Nalini contended that the Governor by keeping the plea in abeyance has acted in derogation of the decision of the Apex Court in Maru Ram v. Union of India, wherein it was held that it is not open for the Governor to independently decide to refuse release of convicts.  

The High Court had observed that when a matter did not fall within the ambit of Article 72 i.e, wherever the pardoning power was not with the President, the Governor was bound by the decision of the Council of Ministers and his formal authorisation was also necessary.


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