Suchhanda Roy takes a sneak peek at the order by the Supreme Court ordering the Yogi Adityanath government to release the convicts who have already served over 14-years in prison. Read more…
Apart from any kind of discrimination, on February 6, 2023, the Supreme Court ordered Uttar Pradesh government to take decisions over the release of lifers lodged in various jails in state within three-months. Inmates, who are lodged in jails for over 14-years, will have to be granted remission of remaining sentences, as they have already served incarceration. This has come in wake of the release of aged and ailing lifters under the policy adopted on August 1, 2018.
As per the reports given by Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Prisons, Uttar Pradesh, out of 6,262 life convicts lodged across various jails in the state, 2,228 have served more than 14 years in prison and therefore eligible for remission. The UP government’s 2018 policy provided a scope that a lifer would be eligible for remission of remaining part of his or her life term once he or she serves 14 years of actual imprisonment. There are more than thousand of lifer inmates dwindling in prison, have no resources or awareness to file a remission application.
If we generalize, the maximum number of life convicts of state are not aware about the legal part of remission procedure as well as the policy of the state govt regarding remission of lifer. The Apex Court also ruled states should bound to consider remission of sentences of eligible lifers, who didn’t submit remission application. It is mentioned that, scores of petitions for remission being filed in Allahabad high Court and Supreme court. Uttar Pradesh’s Additional Advocate General Garima Prashad told in the Supreme Court that the cases regarding the premature release of some of the convicts awarded life were already under consideration and may require three months to take final decision. However, it will not be possible to grant their requests if there are any legal hitch within the said time frame. It is therefore suggested that the state government as well as the prison authorities should take positive step to arrange awareness programme of legal process for the inmates, that would enable them to gather knowledge regarding the legal procedures required to apply for remission.
Supreme courts bench headed by Chief Justice of India and justice P S Narshimha and Justice J B Padriwala strictly said, the government should strictly abide by its policies, as because provisions of law and policy are very much equal for everyone, are to be applied to all eligible equally and transparently, so easily could avoid the discrimination as well as deferential treatments. UP government’s standing counsel Ardhendu Mauli Prasad cited in the court that, lifer who are eligible for remission, their cases are pending before the appropriate committee for consideration in various stages, which would send recommendation to the state, after that to the Governor for final decisions.
Hundreds of Prisoners filed petition questioning UP government’s July 28. 2021 policy, which clearly stated premature release applicable to only those prisoners who are in their 60 years of age. They have certain quarries about the change in premature release policy of the state, as they were entitled as eligible for remission under the August 1, 2018 state policy.
However, quoting the 2018 policy SC bench clearly stated, no convicts will have to apply for the premature release, said state government shall process the release permission, only after seeking recommendation of the concerned prison officials. Beside this court directed the District Legal service Authority to take necessary steps for ensuring that no eligible prisoners are left out.
SC also said, it would institutionalize the frame work for grant of remission across India as well as take up scrutiny of the situation of lifers in all stages and grant remission procedures in Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan very soon.
(The writer is a senior journalist with reputed publication.)