When the petition came up for hearing, Justice M Sathyanarayanan said since the matter was pending in the Supreme Court, he was treating Nalini’s plea as closed.
The Judge however, asked the Tamilnadu government to consider her request for release based on the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict.
Nalini, who had been in Vellore Central Prison for more than 25 years, had on December last year filed a petition seeking a direction to the Tamilnadu government to release her under the provisions of Article 161 of the Constitution.
She also sought her release on the ground that she had completed more than 20 years in prison.
The State government in its submission last month sought dismissal of the plea, stating that it had written to the Centre seeking its views on the release of all the seven convicts in the case.
The Centre was yet to reply and has moved the Supreme Court against the release of all seven convicts in the case.
Since the matter was pending before the Supreme court, Nalini’s plea should be dismissed, the State government contended.
According to Article 161, the Governor of the State shall have the power to grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extend.
Nalini had moved the Court seeking her release as per a 1994 Government Order that provides for the release of life convicts who had spent 20 years or more in jail.
In her affidavit, Nalini pointed out that after her death sentence in the case was commuted to life imprisonment in 2000, about 2,200 life convicts, who had served more than ten years in jail and less were released by the State government under Article 161.
However, her case had not been considered for premature release on the ground that it fell under Section 435 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
She contended that of the 26 accused, who were awarded death penalty by the trial court, the Supreme Court had upheld the capital punishment only in respect of four people and awarded life sentences to three others, while acquitting the remaining persons.
Subsequently, in April 2000, the Tamilnadu Government had commuted Nalini’s death sentence to life, invoking Article 161 of the Constitution.
In February 2014, the Supreme Court had spared the noose to the remaining three others – Murugan (Nalini’s husband), Santhan and Perarivalan – due to the inordinate delay in disposing of their mercy petitions by the President of India. (Colombo Gazette)