Says discrimination against convicts unfair and irrational
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case life convict S. Nalini, 50, has approached the Madras High Court challenging the validity of Section 435(1)(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which requires the State governments to hold consultations with the Centre before ordering premature release of life convicts whose cases had been investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
She has also urged the court to quash certain portions of a Government Order (G.O.) issued on February 1 this year for release of convicts who had completed 10 years of incarceration, in commemoration of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s birth centenary, because those portions deny the benefit to those who fall under the purview of Section 435 of CrPC.
In an affidavit, filed through her counsel P. Pugalenthi, Nalini, who had been under incarceration for more than 26 years, claimed that it was unfair and irrational to differentiate between convicts whose cases had been investigated by the local police and those who were prosecuted by central agencies such as CBI when it came to considering their premature release.
“The object of premature release of life convicts is reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners. When life convicts are released prematurely on the basis of good conduct which could be assessed by the State governments, requiring the latter to consult the Centre, with respect to those whose offences were investigated by the CBI, would be irrational,” she said.
‘Norm not applicable’
It was also contended that the State governments may have to comply with the requirements under Section 435 of CrPC, only when they release convicts prematurely by exercising the powers conferred on them under Sections 432 and 433 of the code and not while framing a larger scheme for mass release of convicts under Article 161 of the Constitution.
Disclosing that she had filed a case in the Supreme Court too in 2014 challenging the constitutional validity of Section 435(1)(a), Nalini recalled that on July 25, 2014, a three judge Bench led by the then Chief Justice had ordered notice to the Centre returnable by four weeks. Subsequently, further time was granted to the Centre for filing a counter affidavit.
However, on October 27, 2014, the apex court passed a single line order stating: “We decline to entertain the writ petition.” Thus, the constitutional validity of the provision was not decided by the Supreme Court, the convict claimed and urged the High Court to go into the merits of the case and give a finding on the validity of the provision which discriminates between convicts.