For prisoners, phone calls not a right’


‘For prisoners, phone calls not a right’

Legal CorrespondentCHENNAI 04 JUNE 2020 23:54 ISTUPDATED: 04 JUNE 2020 23:54 IST    

Rajiv case convicts are foreigners and cannot demand the privilege, says counsel

The State government on Thursday told the Madras High Court that Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict V. Murugan alias Sriharan was a Sri Lankan national and hence could not demand, as a matter of right, that he should be permitted to make phone calls to his relatives in London and Sri Lanka.

Appearing before a Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and R. Hemalatha, State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan said that prisoners, in general, were now being allowed to make video phone calls to their relatives within the State since personal meetings with friends and relatives had been suspended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Such a concession was only a privilege and not a right, he said, and added that Murugan, being a foreigner, could not claim any right to make phone calls to foreign countries.

However, advocate M. Radhakrishnan, appearing for the convict’s mother-in-law S. Padma, contended that every prisoner had the right to talk to relatives.Advertising


Not in agreement with the stand taken by the State government, Justice Kirubakaran pointed out that Murugan and his wife S. Nalini, also a convict undergoing imprisonment for the last 28 years, wanted to talk to his mother Somani Ammal in Sri Lanka and sister Raji in London to console them on his father Vetrivel’s death on April 27.

“When a father dies, the emotion is the same for everyone, be it an Indian or a foreigner. Just because he (Murugan) happens to be a foreigner, does his identity as a human being get destroyed? Does he get the status of an animal? What is expected of the State at this juncture is only humane consideration of the request,” the judge said.

“No doubt, the convicts have committee a grave crime. What they have done is atrocious and for that they have already been undergoing imprisonment but we should also not become inhuman,” the judge said and adjourned the case to Friday at the request of Mr. Radhakrishnan who wanted to place some judgments related to the issue.

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