The Madras High Court on Monday wondered why the Tamil Nadu government was vehemently opposing the parole application moved by Rajiv Gandhi assassination case life convict AG Perarivalan, while the cabinet has recommended release of all seven convicts in the case.
"Your cabinet has recommended his release in toto. Then why are you opposing his application for parole for one month. Do not oppose for the sake of opposing, a division bench, comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and V M Velumani said to Public Prosecutor A Natarajan.
The PP explained that he is not opposing for the sake of doing so, but but the applicant must have valid reasons to seek parole. "Only last year he was out on leave. As per prison rules, a prisoner becomes eligible for next parole only after three years. Moreover, the prison doctor has made it very clear in his report that though the prisoner suffered a series of illnesses, he is currently under medication for the same and he is stable," Natarajan said.
Senior counsel Shanmugasundaram for the petitioner pointed out that there is a provision in the prison rules under which the state can exempt a prisoner from such conditions and grant parole. "There are such exemptions, but the same cannot be granted on medical grounds", Natarajan added.
Refusing to accept the contention, the bench said that if rules prohibit leave on medical grounds, then such rules have become redundant. "It has to be updated. Do you mean to say illnesses are not extraordinary situations?", the bench asked.
The court then directed the state and the petitioner to file an affidavit on the current status of the Multi- Disciplinary Monitoring Agency probing the larger conspiracy behind the Rajiv Gandhi assassination and the interim orders of the Supreme Court in connection with the matter. The bench then adjourned the hearing to August 12.
On July 29, the Tamil Nadu government had informed the court that the Governor is awaiting the final report of MDMA to take a decision on the recommendation made by the cabinet to release all the seven life convicts of the case.
The issue pertains to a plea moved by T Arputham, mother of life convict AG Perarivalan, who requested a direction from the court to grant 90 days parole to her son, who needs immediate medical attention in view of various ailments.
Besides Nalini Sriharan and her husband, the others convicted in the Rajiv case are AG Perarivalan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Robert Pyas. All are serving life imprisonment for their role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 by an LTTE suicide-bomber.