Much needed break

One may have reservations over granting permanent release of the seven convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, a demand pressed by the convicts, their family members, many pro-Tamil organisations, political parties and the Tamilnadu government itself. But there could not be difference of opinion in granting parole (ordinary leave) to Nalini for six months to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. On Tuesday, the Madras High Court gave permission to Nalini, serving life sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, to appear in person 5 July to argue her plea for six months’ ordinary leave.

Nalini, in prison for over 27 years, wanted the court to direct the Superintendent of Police, Special Prison for Women in Vellore, to produce her before the court so that she could argue her case for leave as party-in-person. A division bench of justices M M Sundaresh and M Nirmal Kumar gave her permission to personally appear on that day at 2.15 pm to argue her case, but made it clear that she shall act in accordance with the prison manual and rules and co-operate with the police escort.

‘This court is not in a position to deny her request. After all, a lawyer is only a representative of a party. When the party wishes to appear in person and put forth her case, the court of law is not required to reject the request until and unless strong reasons exist,’ it said. The court rejected the contention of the State counsel that there can be a law and order situation if Nalini is allowed to appear in person. ‘The APP (Additional Public Prosecutor) apprehends likelihood of law and order situation during her appearance. But we do not find any existing material on the apprehension. We direct the respondents to produce the petitioner before this court at 2.15 pm on 5 July,’’ it said. The bench made it clear that it was open to prison authorities and police to take appropriate steps towards protection and security. Since Nalini has a genuine reason to take leave and given the fact that she had never availed of such ordinary leave for more than 27 years, it is everyone’s wish that her request should be considered positively.

NT Bureau