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AIADMK workers serving life term in bus burning case set free

AIADMK workers serving life term in bus burning case set free
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Three AIADMK men, serving life sentence for setting ablaze a bus in Dharmapuri that killed three girls of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in...

Chennai: Three AIADMK men, serving life sentence for setting ablaze a bus in Dharmapuri that killed three girls of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 2000, were released prematurely from the Vellore Central Prison on Monday.

A Nedunchezhian, G Ravindran and C Muniappan were released from the Central Prison around noon, a top official told PTI.

The state government prematurely released the convicts in commemoration of the birth centenary celebrations (2017-18) of former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran, also AIADMK founder.

In connection with the birth centenary celebrations, Chief Minister K Palaniswami had announced in December 2017 that his government would take steps for the premature release of life convicts.

The release contemplated was for those who had served up to ten years of imprisonment on "humanitarian grounds within the framework of law and prison rules," he said.

Guidelines were subsequently framed by the government for considering the cases of life convicts for their premature release under Article 161 of the Constitution.

Separate government orders were issued for prematurely releasing the trio. The orders said each of them had completed 10 years of actual imprisonment as on February 25, 2018.

The government has accepted the prison department's proposal for their release, the orders said.

The Inspector General of Prisons' proposal for their release was based on the recommendation of two committees set up for the premature release of life convicts, it said.

"In exercise of the powers conferred under Art 161 of the Constitution, the Governor of Tamil Nadu hereby remits the unexpired portion of sentence of imprisonment for life," the separate but identical orders said on the release of the trio.

The government order mandated furnishing of bonds "as per usual terms and conditions," for the beneficiaries of the government's premature release.

A Sessions Court in Salem had convicted the three men to death in 2007 and the Madras High Court had the same year confirmed the death sentence.

While the Supreme Court had upheld the High Court order in 2010, it had stayed the execution of the sentence in 2011 and in March 2016, the top court had commuted the death sentence to life term.

Soon after former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was convicted in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case on February 2, 2000 for allegedly flouting norms to favour a hotel at Kodaikanal, AIADMK workers held protests and a mob torched a varsity bus the same day in Dharmapuri.

Jayalalithaa was sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment in that case.

Three students, Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha died in the blaze amid commotion while 44 other students and two college lecturers managed to escape.

Scores of life convicts have already been released from prisons across the state in connection with the centenary celebrations.

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