SC grants ad interim bail to 97 convicts who served 20 years sentence

The Supreme Court has granted ad-interim bail to 97 prisoners, lodged in the Agra and Varanasi jails of Uttar Pradesh, as they have undergone more than 20 years of their sentence.

Advocate Rishi Malhotra, representing the petitioners, had contended that not releasing the prisoners is a violation of the 2018 policy framed by the state government and it was akin to subjecting the prisoners to illegal detention.

A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J.K. Maheshwari, in an order, said: “Issue notice returnable in three weeks. Since the petitioners have been in jail for over 20 years, they shall be released on ad interim bail subject to the terms and conditions to be imposed by the trial court to its satisfaction.”

The petitioners had argued that according to the 2018 state government policy, which was framed under Article 161 of the Constitution, they were entitled to be released. In July 2021, however, the state government amended the policy, and the petitioners claimed the amendment defeats the rights of the convicts.

“In the said amended policy, an attempt has been made to defeat the rights of the convicts by restricting on the ground that only those convicts who have attained the age of 60 years or more would be given the benefit of the policy dated August 1, 2018,” said the plea.

The petitioners argued that the policy, which was in existence at the time of their conviction, should be followed. The plea stated that all petitioners sentenced to life imprisonment, have already undergone more than the required period of sentence as stipulated in the 2018 policy — 16 years actual and 4 years with remission.