Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday
directed the Tamil Nadu government to restore `A` class
facilities to Nalini, life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, with immediate effect.
"She shall be provided `A` class facilities as ordered by
a designated court earlier with immediate effect," a division
bench comprising justices K Mohan Ram and G M Akbar Ali said
and set aside a May 28, 2010 order of the SP of Special Prison
for Women at Vellore, reducing the prison facility given to
Nalini from `A` class to `B`.
Nalini enjoyed `A` class facility from January 1992 till
the verdict in the assassination case was pronounced on
January 28, 1998 when it was withdrawn. It was restored in
September 2009 by a TADA judge and was again withdrawn from
May 28, 2010.
The SP of the Prison said that during a surprise check in
the high security jail on April 20, 2010, a mobile phone was
recovered from Nalini`s cell. As she had committed an offence
under the prison rules she was given `B` class facilities
instead of `A` under rule 302 (b)(7) of Tamil Nadu Prison
Rules, he said.
Her counsel argued that no inquiry had been held before
awarding the punishment. There should have been an inquiry
under rule 304 of the prison rules. Besides she was also not
given an opportunity to defend herself.
In their order on Nalini`s petition, the judges noted the
respondent (SP) in a counter affidavit, had not stated he had
conducted an inquiry under Rule 302 before awarding
punishment. "There is not even a whisper about affording an
opportunity to the petitioner," the Bench said.
The judges said it was only on their direction that the
respondent had produced the file containing only `stereotype
statements` of prison officials. An extract would show proper
probe had not been conducted in Nalini`s presence and she was
not given an opportunity of a fair hearing, the bench said.
"Therefore, the punishment imposed by the respondent is
not sustainable and liable to be set aside," the judges said
and directed restoration of `A` class facilities to her.
The Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentences to
Nalini and three others. Her death sentence was commuted to