It seems that there is no end to troubles for Nalini Sriharan, who is serving life sentence for Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case. An active mobile phone was discovered in her possession on Tuesday morning in her cell in the Vellore prison.
It is indeed a heavy blow for Nalini since she had been seeking premature release from the jail under the Tamil Nadu Prisons Act and Criminal Procedure Code (Section 433A) which provides that a life convict may seek release after 14 years in jail. Tamil Nadu government had rejected the plea of premature release in the beginning of this month on the basis of eight grounds put forward by the report of Prison Advisory Board, primary grounds being Nalini having no regrets and the heinousness and gravity of her crime. Madras High Court had also rejected her plea filed under general Amnesty scheme.
But now Nalini has filed a writ petition alleging that many life convicts are released after spending 8 to 10 years in jail whereas she is still languishing in jail even after spending 19 years. She also put forward that the Governments opposition to her release is violative of her constitutional rights since she had secured a certificate of good conduct from the Jail SP.
Before the rejection of plea she had written a letter to the additional director-general of police (prisons) saying that – “In these 19 years, no banned material was found on either me or my visitors. But the excesses committed by prison personnel are crossing all limits. This place would be better described as a grave than as a prison for women,” she said. ‘‘I adhere to jail rules, and I am not addicted to any bad habits. Because I don’t bribe prison personnel I suffer a lot.”
It is a cliché that her allegations against the Prison authorities must have brought her displeasure of police. She has been in jail since past nineteen years with a prison record which was clean as a whistle. This sudden development in the case, which might prove to be a hurdle in Nalini’s crusade to freedom, raises many questions on the role of prison administration. The recovery of phone on the very day when her plea was lined up for hearing by the Madras High Court bench indeed gives it a dramatic turn.
In various jails in our country criminals secure luxuries through nexus with the prison administration. Recently 700 mobile phones had surfaced in the Sabarmati jail, where two laptops with internet connectivity were also being put to use by prisoners. Similar stories across the jails in our country have perpetrated the scenario and hence Nalini’s using a contraband good is not a surprise. Though there have been cases where the prisoners were successful in smuggling objects in person or through their visitors, but in most of the cases these facilities are showered upon them by the police who believe in dipping their beak whenever possible.
Is this bad luck for unfortunate Nalini this time or she is suffering the wrath of prison officials and being punished for opening her mouth against them? Did the jail SP issue the certificate of good conduct without even probing and considering every aspect of Nalini’s behaviour? Such incidences raise many questions on the dichotomous attitude of prison administration in India. But seeking answers to these questions might prove to be a tough nut since that would essentially entail exposure of the true condition of Indian prison administration.