In a decision having an impact on remission of nearly 500 convicts undergoing life imprisonment, the Supreme Court on Tuesday passed directions in connection with premature release of prisoners.
A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli was hearing a clutch of petitions against the Uttar Pradesh government’s amendment in the policy in connection with the Premature Release of Life Convicts, 2018.
The UP government on August 1, 2018, issued a remission policy for prisoners undergoing life imprisonment. According to the government, for a lifer to be considered for premature release, the prisoner should undergo 16 years of actual sentence and 4 years of remission – 20 years of total sentence. The policy was amended subsequently in July 2021 in which 16 years actual sentence and 4 years remission was not changed, but a rider was added that in order to be eligible the convict must be above 60 years.
Advocate Rishi Malhotra told IANS that the 60 years age clause was challenged by his clients in a batch of petitions before the apex court, and in May 2022, the state government withdrew it. Therefore, the convicts were to be considered for remission as per August 2018 policy.
Malhotra said: “I made this plea before the Supreme Court that all these convicts have already surpassed the desired sentence, as per August 2018 policy. Their cases must be considered immediately as per policy August 1, 2018, and the decision must be taken in a time-frame.”
The bench said that all cases of premature release of life convicts, in a clutch of petitions before it, will be considered as per August 201, policy. It added that there is no requirement for the convict to submit an application for premature release, and their cases will be considered automatically by the jail authorities.
It said that the district legal services authorities should take necessary steps for the release of eligible convicts, and in cases where reports have been submitted, the authorities concerned should deal with it within a month. It further added that the premature release for all eligible life convicts should be considered within a period of 4 months.