The Madras High Court on Tuesday orally asked the Tamil Nadu government reason for not allowing Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts, Nalini and her husband Sriharan, to make video calls to their relatives in Sri Lanka when it had already decided to release her and six others.
A bench of Justice N Kirubakarn and Justice R Hemalatha made the observation during the hearing of a petition by Nalini's mother, seeking a direction to permit her daughter to speak to her mother-in-law in Sri Lanka and sister-in-law in London daily for ten minutes.
Making clear they were not in support of the convicts, the judges wondered as to why the prison authorities were refusing to grant the permission when the state has taken a stand to release all the seven convicts in the case.
It was referring to the decision of the state cabinet for premature release of the seven convicts, which is awaiting approval from the state Governor.
Public Prosecutor A Natarajan informed the court that Nalini cannot be allowed to make video calls as there was no such provision in rules for contacting any person in any foreign country.
Since the offence committed by the life convicts had international ramification, and given their overseas contacts with banned outfits, there was no guarantee that the convicts would use this facility for personal and family affair, he submitted.
The bench then adjourned the hearing to Wednesday with a direction to the prosecutor to inform the court the clear stand of the prison authorities.
Earlier, in a counter affidavit, the state police had said there was no provision either in the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules or in government orders to allow a prisoner to make video call or even voice call to
any person in any foreign country.
The official noted that the issue involving foreign countries falls within the domain of Union Ministry for External Affairs, and the state government or the prison authorities cannot take any unilateral decision.
Besides Nalini and her husband, the others convicted in the case are A G Perarivalan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Robert Pyas.
All are serving life imprisonment for their role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 by an LTTE suicide-bomber at nearby Sriperumbudur.
They were initially sentenced to death, but later the punishment was commuted to life imprisonment.