Madras HC issues notices to state, Union governments on plea to release Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Murugan from refugee camp

Murugan's Nalini filed the petition to after her representation to FRRO and the Bureau of Immigration elicited no response. The couple wants to shift to the UK.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Jul 06, 2023 | 4:04 PMUpdatedJul 06, 2023 | 5:14 PM

Nalini, Murugan and four others were released from jail following a Supreme Court order in November 2022. (Creative Commons)

The Madras High Court on Thursday, 6 July, ordered to issue notices to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) and the Tamil Nadu government on a petition seeking the release of Sriharan alias Murugan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, from the Special Camp for Refugees at Tiruchy in Tamil Nadu.

Murugan’s wife Nalini Sriharan, also a convict, filed the petition.

The Supreme Court ordered to release them along with four others on 11 November, 2022 after they had spent more than three decades in jail. They were freed the next day.

Referring to the Supreme Court order for their release, Nalini submitted that her husband, a Sri Lankan national, had been detained at the Tiruchy camp based on a Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) directive. He was detained soon after his release from jail.

Nalini contended that according to a Tamil Nadu government policy, foreigners, upon their release from jail, were allowed to live with their family members in the state, subject to certain conditions. They were also allowed to seek asylum in any country of their choice, she added, citing the rules.

Also read: Most political parties welcome SC order releasing convicts

No response from FRRO

Nalini submitted that her daughter was a citizen of the United Kingdom. She said she and her husband would like to settle with their daughter in the UK.

Seeking his release, she said he had to contact the Sri Lankan Embassy for his passport, but his movements were currently confined to the refugee camp.

Nalini had made representations to the FRRO in Chennai on 20 May, 2023, requesting Murugan’s release so that he could join her in Chennai, where she has been living.

She approached the court after her representations received no response.

Admitting Nalini’s petition, Justice N Seshasayee ordered the Tiruchy district collector and the FRRO to file their replies in six weeks.

Also read: Roles the now-free 6 convicts played in Rajiv Gandhi assassination

Illegal entry put Murugan in refugee camp

A special court in 1998 sentenced Nalini, Murugan, and 24 others for life under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) after finding them guilty of assassinating former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May, 1991.

The couple was arrested from Chennai on 14 June, 1991. Nalini was then pregnant and gave birth to Harithra in jail. The girl initially grew up in the prison jail before Murugan’s parents took her to Sri Lanka and then to the UK.

The Supreme Court invoked its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution to order the release of Nalani, Murugan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, and Ravichandran.

Another convict, Perarivalan, was released on 18 May, 2022.

After their release, Murugan, Santhan, and Robert Payas were shifted to the refugee camp since they had entered India without valid travel documents.