M.R. Shanmugasundaram would have spent the rest of his life behind bars in Tiruchi Central Prison, had he not used RTI to free himself.
In 1994, Shanmugasundaram, an Indian national, was convicted in Sri Lankan Court of Negombo, for a Drug offence under the Poison, Opium and Dangerous substance Amended (ACT). He was awarded the
death sentence which was later on commuted to life sentence through a presidential pardon and further commuted to 25 years in prison.
In 2013, he was transferred to the Tiruchi Central Prison under a SAARC exchange agreement.While nearing the completion of 25 years in the prison including the remand period, Shanmugasundaram requested for a release but was denied on the grounds that there were no proper paper work or record of his pending release. Fearing that he might have to spend the rest of his life in prison, Shanmugasundaram filed an RTI application with the Ministry of External affairs to know the status of his imprisonment in Tiruchi Central Prison.
The officials at the Ministry of external affairs responded stating that the information should be sought from the concerned state government, at the same time seeking clarifications form the Srilankan Prison authorities. When it was confirmed that Shanmugasundaram’s sentence had been commuted to 25 years, the MHA officials directed the state government to release him.
Shanmugasundaram, today is a free man, having been released from prison. He effectively used his Right to Know his own status of imprisonment thus cutting through many layers of red tapism and freeing himself from bonds of Government apathy towards such prisoners of fate.
Source : Hindu