New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on a plea by S Nalini, undergoing life
imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, challenging the law mandating Centre's approval for her release and that of six other convicts.
A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha sought response from the Centre which had earlier contended that Tamil Nadu can't release the convicts without its approval and had derailed the state government's decision to release them.
In her petition, Nalini challenged Section 435(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code which mandates the state government to consult the Centre before premature release of a convict if the case was investigated by the CBI.
Nalini has been in jail for the last 23 years and undergoing life imprisonment after her death sentence was commuted. She was sentenced to death penalty by the trial court in the case on 28 January, 1998.
Nalini's death sentence was commuted to life term by the Tamil Nadu Governor on 24 April, 2000.
"Though 2200 life convicts who had put in less than 10 years of imprisonment were prematurely released by the Tamil Nadu Government during the last about 15 years, she was excluded from consideration for premature release only on the ground that her offence was investigated by the CBI ie Her case was covered by Section 435(1)(a) CrPC. The said section is unconstitutional," the petition said.
A day after the apex court had commuted the death sentences of convicts Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, the Jayalalithaa government on February 19 had proposed to remit the sentences of all seven lifers, including the three, and release them.
The decision of the state government to release the convicts was challenged by the Centre before the Supreme Court which had stayed the decision and referred the matter to a Constitution bench.
The court had on 20 February stayed the decision to release of three convicts--Murugan, Santhan and Arivu — whose death sentence was commuted to life term by it on 18 February in the case, saying there had been procedural lapses on the part of the state government on the decision to release them.
The apex court later on had also stayed release of convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran in the case.
Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore and they are in jail since 1991.
The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi's assassination on 21 May, 1991 in Sriperumbudur.
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Updated Date: Jul 25, 2014 18:02:19 IST