Dashing her hopes of life outside prison, the Tamil Nadu Government on Monday rejected the plea of Nalini, serving life term in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, for premature release after an advisory board said the gravity of her crime was heinous and she has no regrets about it.
State Advocate General P S Raman on Monday informed a division bench of the Madras High Court of the government's decision after the Prison Advisory Board constituted by it to consider her representation had rejected her plea on eight grounds and the state government has accepted it.
The bench, comprising Elipe Dharma Rao and K K Sashidaran, was hearing a petition by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy challenging a September 2008 order of a single judge directing the state government to constitute an advisory board to consider the release of Nalini, who is in prison for the last 19 years.
The PAB, headed by Vellore District Collector C Rajendran, which had on January 20 heard Nalini and two others at the Vellore prison, in its report listing the grounds for rejection of her plea, observed that the "gravity" of the crime committed was "heinous".
"Nalini had harboured the prime accused and had been associated with the accused. She became part and parcel of the conspiracy hatched to assassinate former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in which 18 others also died. She had also been informed about the assassination plot well in advance. She had acquired degree and diplomas, which does not mean that she had changed her attitude. Even now she does not admit her guilt and she has no regrets for her act," the report said.
It also said if she was released and allowed to stay with her mother and brother, who were earlier imprisoned and released, in the Royapettah locality (in Chennai) it would create a law and order problem.
"In view of the above reasoning, the January 20 representation of the prisoner as a mother of a child and as an individual was not acceptable. Keeping in view all these aspects and the crime committed by her against the nation, the plea of premature release on the ground that she has been incarcerated for about 19 years, cannot be considered," the PAB said in its report.
"Considering the social history, circumstances of criminal behaviour, degree of criminality, her case is not fit for recommendation of premature release," the report said.
Nalini (44), who has an 18-year-old girl child Megha through Murugan, a Sri Lankan Tamil given death sentence in the case, was sentenced to death by a special court along with 25 others in January 1998. The Supreme Court had confirmed the capital punishment for her and three others.
However, Nalini's death penalty was commuted to life by the state government on April 24, 2000 allowing a clemency petition by Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia, who had favoured reduction in the punishment considering the plight of Nalini's young daughter.
The court on March 11 last asked the state government to take a decision within two weeks on Nalini's plea after the AG submitted that the the PAB's report was being examined.
Authorities rejected an earlier plea by Nalini for premature release in October 2007.
The PAB report also said the prison probation officer in his July 31, 2009 report recommending her premature release had said Nalini's family had informed him during an enquiry that she would live with them if released and this would not create any problem in the area.
The probation officer had mentioned this input as the main reason for recommending her release. But the inspector of Royapettah police station had stated that the area was situated amidst the American consulate and important political functionaries stayed there and hence there was every chance of law and order problem if Nalini was accommodated in the area.
More over the Regional Probationer officer, who is also a member of the PAB, had considered the reports of the probation officer and the inspector and had concurred that the case was not fit for premature release, the report said.