HC Quashes mobile case against Nalini
Granting relief to Nalini Sriharan, serving a life term in the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case, Madras High Court on Wednesday quashed a criminal case against her for possession of a mobile phone, filed by the jail superintendent of Vellore Special Prison for women.
Justice P Devadass held that in the said case, the Superintendent had already used powers under Rule 301 of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules and relegated her from Class A Cell to Class B Cell in the prison.
Having done so, the official does not have the jurisdiction to refer the case again to the Judicial Magistrate, for such a scenario would lead to “double jeopardy” for the accused.
According to the case made out by the police, Nalini was found in possession of a mobile phone in her cell on April 2010.
When the prison authorities tried to seize the phone, she allegedly prevented them from discharging their duties.
Following this, a case was filed at the Bagayam Police Station under sections 353, 186 and 201 of IPC.
The Jail Superintendent later conducted an inquiry and awarded punishment relegating her from her Class A cell to Class B. This proceeding was challenged in the High Court and was subsequently quashed.
The Judicial Magistrate of Vellore, however, took cognisance of the case and the trial began. Nalini then approached the High Court again to quash the case.
Delivering the verdict, the court cited Prison Rules and several apex court judgments, which state that once the Jail Superintendent chooses to exercise powers under the rules and awards punishment for an offence, the prisoner cannot be prosecuted again for the same offence by a Magistrate.
“Either one of the modes alone can be opted by the Superintendent and not both,” the order said, quashing the case.