CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday rejected the plea of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination convict Nalini Sriharan in which she had sought premature release. The court had earlier this week said it will announce its decision on Friday on the appeal filed by Nalini. A division bench, comprising Justices K K Sasidharan and R Subramanian, had reserved the order on April 24 on the plea by Nalini, challenging the order of a single judge rejecting her prayer for premature release under a 1994 state government scheme under Article 161 (powers of Governor to grant pardon).
The Tamil Nadu government had in November 2017 informed the Madras HC that it cannot entertain a plea of Nalini Sriharan as a similar case was pending before the apex court. Deputy Secretary of the state home department filed a counter affidavit to Nalini's petition. In response to a habeas corpus petition pending before a Division Bench headed by Justice Rajiv Shakdher in the Madras High Court filed by Nalini, the government had in its counter said, "She is a party respondent in a plea pending before the Supreme Court in connection with remission of sentences of all seven convicts in the case, moved by the central government.
Meanwhile, the former PM's son and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had recently said during an event in Singapore that his family has "completely forgiven" the killers as they find it "difficult to hate people". '' I and my sister Priyanka have completely forgiven our father's killers,'' Rahul had said.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at nearby Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, and seven persons---Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran---were convicted in the case. Payas and Jayakumar were sentenced to death for their role in the assassination, but their sentence was later commuted to life by the Supreme Court in 1999.
Nalini was first awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court and subsequently the Tamil Nadu government under Article 161 of the constitution commuted her sentence to life on April 24, 2000.