Three life convicts in the Dharmapuri bus burning case were released from the Vellore Central Prison for Men on Monday afternoon, reports said quoting sources in the Prison department.
This was done after officials reportedly received a fax from the Additional Director General of Police (prisons) ordering for the three men convicted in this brutal crime to be released early on the occasion of the birth centenary of former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran.
The case relates to the death of Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha, all students of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, when the bus they were travelling in along with 44 other students and two teachers was torched by the three convicts on February 2, 2000, after the conviction of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in a criminal case. Nedunchezhian, Ravindran and Muniappan were initially awarded the death penalty.
Convicts Nedunchezhian, Ravindran and Muniappan got relief in March 2016 when the Supreme Court commuted their punishment to life imprisonment, saying that the incident was not pre-meditated.
Reports suggest that a week ago, the AIADMK government reiterated its recommendation for the early release of the convicts after Governor Banwarilal Purohit returned their files to the state government for reconsideration.
The Supreme Court of India initially convicted and sentenced the three main accused Muniappan, Nedunchezhian and Ravindran to death observing it was rarest of the rare and earlier the Salem District court had stated that crime was committed “only for the political career”.
Soon after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party (DMK) came into power in Tamil Nadu in 1996, it filed a series of corruption cases against the former Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary J. Jayalalithaa, other ministers, and bureaucrats of her government. In the Pleasant Stay hotel case, a Special Court judgement given by Justice V. Radhakrishnan convicted Jayalalithaa and sentenced her to one year of “rigorous imprisonment”. This led to statewide protests and violence.