If the convicts attempt to speak in any language other than English or Tamil or if they attempt to misuse the privilege, the prison officials could immediately disconnect the call, Justice Kirubakaran said before reserving orders.

TAMIL NADU
Rajiv Gandhi case convicts are just arrows, MDMA is finding out the bows, Centre tells HC
Legal Correspondent
CHENNAI 20 AUGUST 2020 04:22 IST
UPDATED: 20 AUGUST 2020 02:18 IST

The Centre on Thursday told the Madras High Court that seven life convicts undergoing imprisonment for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were only “arrows” used to carry out the task and that a Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) would find out the “bows” from which these arrows were released.

Appearing before Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani, Assistant Solicitor General G. Karthikeyan said there was a larger conspiracy behind the assassination of the former Prime Minister and hence the MDMA, constituted in 1998 after Jain Commission report, had been looking at various international angles behind the assassination.

He made the submission while opposing a plea made by two of the convicts S. Nalini and her husband Murugan alias V. Sriharan seeking permission to talk to their relatives in the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka on video call. The ASG claimed that the convicts could not be allowed to make video calls to foreign countries since it would affect MDMA probe.

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When the judges wondered how could allowing the convicts to make video call to their relatives could affect MDMA probe, he said, hardened criminals communicate a lot through their body language, facial expressions and through code words even in the presence of the police who would many a times would be left clueless as to what did they communicate.

State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan too opposed the plea for permitting the convicts to make video calls to foreign countries. On the other hand, advocate M. Radhakrishnan said, it was the fundamental right of every convict to interact with his/her relatives. The prison rules permit for an interview with the relatives once in a week.

However, now that there was a bar on such interviews due to COVID-19, the prison officials were permitting convicts to make video calls to their relatives every week in addition to the other right of making regular audio calls for a duration of 10 minutes each on three occasions in a month. It was unfair to allow the video calls only within the country, he said.

Since Murugan’s father had died in Sri Lanka, he and his wife want to talk to his mother residing in the island nation and console her. Similarly, they wanted to talk to his sister residing in the UK, he added. Finding force in his submissions, the judges said that the convict could be allowed to make video calls at least once to console their relatives.

Making it clear that the calls could be made only by the prison officials, they said, the entire conversation could be recorded on video and monitored. If the convicts attempt to speak in any language other than English or Tamil or if they attempt to misuse the privilege, the prison officials could immediately disconnect the call, Justice Kirubakaran said before reserving orders.

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