Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, walked out of Vellore Jail on Thursday for a month’s leave to make arrangements for and attend her daughter Harithra’s wedding. She was received by her mother, a retired nurse. Her daughter, who studies medicine in the UK, is expected to join her next week. According to conditions imposed by authorities, during this period Nalini cannot leave Vellore and is not allowed to meet politicians or speak to the media.
The Madras High Court had granted Nalini leave earlier this month in a hearing at which she argued for herself. Asking for leave of six months, Nalini Sriharan made an emotional appeal and argued she had been wrongfully punished in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
“I could not look after my daughter. I did not fulfil my motherly responsibilities,” she said, adding, “I did not fulfil my responsibilities to my father before he died. Now I’ve to meet my family for my daughter’s wedding. I’ve to arrange for finances.”
Before giving the order Justice MM Sundaresh, one of two judges on the bench, explained to her that government rules only allowed her a maximum of 30 days leaves.
This is the first time during the 28 years she has spent behind bars that Nalini has availed leave.
Nalini Sriharan was initially sentenced to death for providing shelter to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin. However, after intervention by Sonia Gandhi, that sentence was commuted to life after she gave birth to her daughter.
The Supreme Court later also commuted the sentences of six others on death row. All seven have been in jail for close to 28 years. The Tamil Nadu cabinet has recommended their release, but the Governor has yet to decide on the matter.