Three AIADMK men, serving life imprisonment on charges of setting ablaze a bus in Dharmapuri killing three girls of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), were set free from the Vellore Central Prison on Monday. The convicts — Nedunchezhian, Ravindran and Muniappan — had resorted to the violence following former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s conviction in a corruption case on February 2, 2000.

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit had cleared the AIADMK government’s recommendation to release them prematurely. Initially the Governor had returned the file seeking remission of their life sentence for reconsideration by the government. However, the State sent back the file sticking to its stand following which Mr. Purohit accepted the recommendation to release them.

The convicts

were originally awarded death sentence by the trial court and the same was upheld by the Supreme Court, but on a review petition their sentence was commuted to life two years ago.

The case relates to the death of Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha — all students of the TNAU, Coimbatore, when the bus they were travelling in along with 44 other students and two teachers was torched by the three.

The State Government had recommended the premature release of about 1,800 life convicts including the three lodged in central prisons across Tamil Nadu on the occasion of the birth centenary of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran. The eligibility norm was that the convicts should have completed 10 years of imprisonment (five years in the case of those aged 60 years and above) as on February 25, 2018.
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