Court suo motu includes MEA as one of the respondents to habeas corpus petition
The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to produce a letter written by it to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking a clarification on whether former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts S. Nalini and her husband Murugan alias V. Sriharan could be allowed to make WhatsApp video calls to the U.K. and Sri Lanka.
Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani also suo motu included the MEA as one of the respondents to a habeas corpus petition filed by Nalini’s mother S. Padma, 80, seeking permission for the convicts to talk to Murugan’s mother Somani Ammal in Sri Lanka and sister Raji in London and console them on his father Vetrivel’s death in the island nation on April 27.
The direction was issued after State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan told the court that the State government had nothing against the convicts. It was only because they were seeking permission to make video calls to foreign countries and the issue involved foreign relations, that the State had written to the MEA, which he suggested could be made a respondent to the present case.
Refusing to take out an application for impleading the MEA, the petitioner’s counsel, M. Radhakrishnan, said that the Centre was an unnecessary party to the case. “Prisoners are under the control of the State government which has to take a call on my plea. The Centre has no role. I will not file an impleading petition, but the court can do it suo motu, if it wants,” he said.
He wondered what the hurdle was in permitting the convicts to make phone calls to foreign countries when the State was already allowing all prisoners to make video calls to their relatives across the country because of a ban on personal interviews due to COVID-19. He also said that the Supreme Court had upheld the right of foreign prisoners to talk to their relatives.
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