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Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: Madras HC dismisses Nalini’s plea for early release

Nalini Sriharan is currently serving life sentence in Vellore women prison for her involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. (File)

The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition by Nalini Sriharan — serving a life sentence for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi — seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu Governor for her early release, along with six other co-accused in the case, as recommended by the state government.

Nalini had earlier this month won a legal battle for her first ordinary parole in 27 years to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. On Thursday, however, a division bench of Justice R Subbiah and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy dismissed Nalini’s plea to uphold the immunity enjoyed by a Governor against judicial directions.

Nalini’s counsel M Radhakrishnan argued that Governor Banwarilal Purohit had failed to act on the September 9, 2018, recommendation of the state cabinet for her premature release, and termed it as contempt of a Supreme Court direction, which has made it clear that the Governor is bound by the decisions of the State.

“When the advice is binding, the Governor, a constitutional functionary, has no discretion whatsoever but to act immediately on such advice,” Radhakrishnan said.

However, the state government counsel stated that the Governor enjoys unqualified immunity under Article 361(1) of the Constitution, and hence no direction can be given to the Governor.

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