You must know: Why Madras HC said it can't release Nalini in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case?

While the complete release of AG Perarivalan from the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has brought in a ray of hope for the other convicts, the lawsuits for the release that were filed by two convicts in the case - Nalini and Ravichandran had a setback as the Madras High Court has dismissed their pleas. The Rajiv Gandhi case has seven convicts of which Perarivalan has been released while the rest of the convicts are serving their sentences for the past three decades. 

The Madras High Court has on Friday heard the petitions moved by Nalini and Ravichandran regarding their early release. Dismissing their pleas, the High Court has highlighted that it doesn't have similar powers to release Nalini and Ravichandran and said that both the petitioners can approach the Supreme Court if their pleas were based on Perarivalan's release. With the tag of a high-profile case, the hearing has drawn major attention.

Perarivalan was released last month after serving three-decade incarceration since 1991 after being convicted for assassinating the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur, on the outskirts of Chennai. Perarivalan was one among the seven convicts and initially, he was awarded the death sentence and went close to the gallows. In 2014, his death sentence was commuted to life and after eight years, he was completely released from the prison. 

After the Supreme Court ordered the release of Perarivalan last month, there were hopes that the remaining convicts would be released from their prison sentences. Speaking after the release of Perarivalan, Nalini's mother Padma Sankaranarayan told IANS, "After the release of Perarivalan, I am convinced that Nalini will be released soon. Perarivalan's mother Arputhammal has gone through a lot of trauma and her relentless struggle and fight for his release paid off finally. I expect that Nalini will also be released soon." 

Nalini has been the only woman inmate to serve the longest prison term and Padma stated that it was the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi who had commuted her death sentence to life as she had a child. Padma further said that she has high hopes on the statement of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin that the state government would work for the release of the remaining convicts. 

Perarivalan was released by the Supreme Court by invoking the powers conferred with the top judicial body under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution. However, Nalini and Ravichandran had pleaded for an early release based on the resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu cabinet in 2018 in favour of the release of all convicts. When their pleas came to a hearing on Friday, the government told the court that it cannot release the petitioner without the consent of the Governor. 

In its order of dismissing the pleas tabled by Nalini and Ravichandran, the High Court bench comprising of the Chief Justice has observed that a High Court cannot pass orders like the Supreme Court. It had then ordered the petitioners to approach the Supreme Court if their pleas align with the release of Perarivalan.