(from left to right) Sriharan alias Murugan, Nalini Sriharan(2019) and Santhan
On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) of India ordered the release of the six remaining convicts serving life imprisonment for their alleged association in the killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The court applied its May 18 2022 judgement of releasing AG Peraivalan to 6 individuals after the criteria for Periaivalan's release was made for each of their cases.
Those who have been granted premature release are Nalini Sriharan; Santhan, alias Raviraj; Murugan; Robert Payas; Jayakumar; and Ravichandran, alias Ravi. They were found to have good conduct in jail and all of them had acquired various degrees during their stay in jail. The court noted that the Tamil Nadu cabinet had recommended their release on September 9, 2018, and this opinion will be binding on the Governor.
Nalini Sriharan's brother Bakianathan said the convicts had already served three decades in prison and had suffered enough. "They were released on humanitarian grounds. Those who oppose their release should respect the laws of India," Bakianathan told NDTV.
Of the six accused, prison officials said Nalini and Ravichandran are Indian citizens, whereas Santhan, Murugan, Robert Payas and Jayakumar are Sri Lankan nationals. Nalini and Ravichandran will be released if they do not have any other cases pending against them. Currently, Nalini and Ravichandran are on parole from the Central prisons in Vellore and Madurai, respectively.
Earlier this year A.G Perarivalan was released after the supreme court invoked article 142 of the constitution, which grants it powers for “doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it” to release Perarivalan who has spent more than 30 years in jail. He was 19 years old when he was arrested in 1991. His release has been widely seen as a result of his mother Arputhammal’s struggle who campaigned tirelessly for her son’s release.
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.K Stalin tweeted in support of the release, praising the apex court's decision.
பேரறிவாளனைத் தொடர்ந்து, நளினி உள்ளிட்ட 6 பேரையும் உச்சநீதிமன்றம் விடுதலை செய்துள்ளது நாம் நடத்திய வலிமையான சட்டப்போராட்டங்களுக்கும், மனிதநேயத்துக்கும் கிடைத்த வெற்றி!
அரசின் முடிவுகளை நியமனப் பதவியில் இருப்போர் கிடப்பில் போடக்கூடாது என்ற வகையில் மக்களாட்சிக் கோட்பாட்டின் வெற்றி! pic.twitter.com/lisDir178n
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) November 11, 2022
Senthamizhan Seeman, leader of the NTK, also tweeted in support and welcomed the release after a "long legal struggle".
— சீமான் (@SeemanOfficial) November 11, 2022
Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a female suicide bomber, identified as Kalaivani Rajaratnam or Dhanu, at a campaign rally.