Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: Madras HC Orders Swift Repatriation of Convict Santhan’s Body to Sri Lanka

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination

The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to take all necessary measures to expedite the process of transporting the body of Santhan, a former convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, to Sri Lanka.

Santhan(55) and a Sri Lankan national, was one of seven convicts in the case ordered to be released by the Supreme Court in 2022 after serving over 20 years in prison. He was admitted to a government hospital in Chennai last month due to liver failure and passed away on Wednesday following a cardiac arrest.

A division bench of Justices R Suresh Kumar and K Kumaresh Babu also mandated the state government to assist in transporting Santhan’s body by air. The bench emphasized that the State Government should provide any necessary logistical support and security arrangements.

In this regard, the bench stated that a senior IAS Officer and an IPS Officer of the TN government would be appointed as Nodal officers to oversee the task on behalf of the government. The bench directed both State and Central authorities to submit a compliance report regarding the completion of this task by March 4, 2024.

Additionally, the bench instructed the State authorities to promptly provide the necessary documents from the Hospital authorities to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO).

The court was addressing Santhan’s previous plea for authorities to deport him to Sri Lanka. Following his release in 2022, he was housed in a special camp at Tiruchirappalli.

Furthermore, the bench urged the State to expedite clearance from the High Commission of Sri Lanka considering the urgent situation. Once the necessary documents are received, the FRRO was directed to promptly issue the required orders/clearance to facilitate the transportation of Santhan’s body to Sri Lanka.

The bench noted that according to the Public Prosecutor, the Magistrate enquiry had been completed as Santhan had been in the Tiruchirappalli special camp before being hospitalized. Additionally, other clinical procedures such as postmortem and embalming had been completed.

Regarding the issuance of necessary documents, Additional Solicitor General ARL Sundaresan, representing the Central authorities, stated that certain documents were required for final approval to transport Santhan’s body to Sri Lanka. These included travel documents issued on February 22, 2024, a Death Certificate from the Hospital, an embalming certificate, and permission from the Sri Lankan High Commission/Embassy.

The ASG assured that collecting these documents would not be a significant challenge and could be accomplished promptly. Subsequently, the Central authority, i.e., FRRO, would grant the final approval for transporting the body to Sri Lanka.

The bench acknowledged the submissions made by the Public Prosecutor and the Additional Solicitor General and noted them in its order.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte