- Rajiv Gandhi killer Nalini Sriharan begins 30-day leave from Vellore Jail
- Madras High Court had granted her leave to attend daughter's wedding
- Nalini not allowed to leave Vellore, or speak to politicians or media
Nalini Sriharan, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, walked out of a jail in Vellore in Tamil Nadu today on a month's leave for her daughter Harithra's wedding. As she stepped out of prison in an orange and red silk saree, surrounded by policewomen, 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 the 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 the 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 fulfill my motherly responsibilities," she said, adding, "I did not fulfill 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."
Nalini Sriharan was granted a day's parole last year to attend the last rites of her father, Sankara Narayanan, 92, in Chennai.
The court also exempted Nalini Sriharan from payment of charges for police security, saying she was not a woman of means. She said she had been made to pay Rs 16,000 last year.
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 leave.
This is the first time during the 28 years she has spent behind bars that Nalini has availed leave.
Nalini's husband, Murugan, is also serving a life sentence and is housed in the same jail.
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, Harithra, in jail.
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.