News: Kin of life convicts fight for premature release

P. Jonathan Ambrose | ENS

Puducherry, March 8

Wives and mothers of those serving life sentences are fighting a desperate battle to be back with their loved ones who have completed seven years in prison.

They are citing examples of the Tamil Nadu government, which has released 4,033 prisoners in the past two years, on the ground that they had completed seven years.

In Tamil Nadu, the sentence for those serving life has gradually reduced from 14 years to seven by 2008 and thousands of prisoners had been released following the circular from National Human Rights Committee that the courts could release them at the completion of seven years.

But in Puducherry only one prisoner who completed 14 years, has been released in past two years.

“It has been 10 years and I have been living with my mother-in-law. I am determined to educate my kids. I am trying my best to get back my husband,” said Sathiya Kathandi with tears in her eyes. Sathiya is the wife of Kathandi alias Kangamani, who was sentenced to life for murder in 2000 and has completed 10 years now.

Along with her, Ezhil, Jyothi and the relatives of 43 other prisoners who have completed seven years in prison, have been fighting for the prisoners’ premature release for the past two years. Totally, there are 84 prisoners sentenced to life in the Puducherry prison.

“The Tamil Nadu government, after the release of the 4,033 prisoners was given a report by the State’s Inspector General of Prisons that only seven returned to prison and that too petty offences. This showed that that there was no grave danger in considering their families’ genuine petitions,” explained Sugumaran, Federation of People’s Rights, an NGO.

They have submitted their petitions to the Chief Minister of Puducherry, V Vaithilingam and E Valsaraj, Home Minister. Home Minister Valsaraj, who also handles the law department, assured them that he would look into the issue and do the needful.

The New Indian Express /  09.03.2010

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