Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: Counsel hopeful Nalini will be able to make video calls to kin abroad

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
Chennai Published: Aug 19, 2020, 06:34 PM(IST)

Rajiv Gandhi assassination Photograph:( Agencies )

Story highlights

Murugan had earlier made requests to speak to his father, a resident of Sri Lanka, but that was turned down. 

The Madras High Court has reserved its verdict after the final hearing of a petition which sought permission for Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Nalini to make video calls to her kin who are living abroad.

Nalini’s counsel M. Radhakrishnan told WION that they are hopeful of a positive verdict, given that it is a prisoner’s fundamental right to socialise with members of their family. 

The petition was filed by Nalini’s mother in May this year as it sought to allow her daughter and son-in-law Murugan alias Sriharan(also in jail) to have 10-minute video calls daily, with their kin. Murugan’s mother resides in Sri Lanka and Murugan’s sister resides in London.

During earlier hearings, the Tamil Nadu government which was represented by IG, Prisons had informed the Madras High Court that there is no provision either in TN Prison Rules 1983 or a government order to allow a prisoner to make a voice or video call to anyone residing in a foreign country. On behalf of the Tamil Nadu government, the IG had  asked the court to dismiss the petition.

The state government representative also added that prison authorities cannot take action against the caller on other end, if Nalini or Murugan violated the Prison rules or other laws. Further, it was stated that allowing a petitioner to make video/voice call is a privilege extended to prisoners for good behaviour and not a vested right. It was also pointed out that since the case had international ramifications, and the convicts association with a banned outfit, this fell under the domain of Ministry of External Affairs.

However, Nalini’s counsel had argued on the grounds that the state government’s contentions are unconstitutional. 

“Their kin being foreign residents doesn’t mean that a foreign country is involved and that the MEA must look into it. Nobody can prevent two individuals from across borders from talking. The prisoner has the same right to express. Identifying and confirming the caller on the other end is the duty of the Prison authorities” he told WION. 

When it came to the possibility of them getting in touch with members of the banned outfit(LTTE), he asserted that they are after all speaking to Murugan’s mother and sister both of whom are not connected to any banned outfit.

“This is a family call to their parents/in-laws, authorities can monitor it or videograph it, even the jailer can sit beside them and witness what is being spoken. Not allowing even this is a clear violation of fundamental right, Article 21 of our Constitution. 

"It’s the duty of the state machinery to ensure that the call can take place” Radhakrishnan added, stating that the government’s earlier argument was indeed "intelligently drafted".

Murugan had earlier made requests to speak to his father, a resident of Sri Lanka, but that was turned down. 

In late April this year when Murugan’s father expired, he was even denied the opportunity of seeing his father for the final time before the last rites were performed. Reports say that the father’s last wish was that of being able to see their son. 

Read in App