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SC Asks UP Govt To Explain Whether Its 2018 Policy Will Apply To Premature Release Of Life Convicts

“We are of the prima facie view that cases of these prisoners should have been considered under the 2018 policy as their names were not considered at that time,” the bench said.

SC Asks UP Govt To Explain Whether Its 2018 Policy Will Apply To Premature Release Of Life Convicts
A view of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. | PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary
SC Asks UP Govt To Explain Whether Its 2018 Policy Will Apply To Premature Release Of Life Convicts
outlookindia.com
2021-12-03T23:17:04+05:30

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain whether its policy of 2018 on the premature release of convicts serving life-sentence can be applied retrospectively in the wake of some amendments made to it in July this year.

The top court told the State government that it is of prima facie view that the 2018 policy should have been applied to the prisoners, who have served more than 20-25 years of incarceration and whose names were not considered.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna issued notice to the State government and sought its response in two weeks saying that though 103 convicts have approached the court, it will not go into individual cases looking at the impact of their release on society. “We are of the prima facie view that cases of these prisoners should have been considered under the 2018 policy as their names were not considered at that time,” the bench said.

It said, “The only question which has been raised in aid of the petition under Article 32 of the Constitution is in regard to the applicability of the new policy to those cases which were not considered in terms of the earlier policy dated August 1, 2018”.

It noted that on August 1, 2018, a policy was framed by the UP Government concerning the premature release of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, annually on the occasion of Republic Day or Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.  

“The policy, which was framed in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 161 of the Constitution, stipulated the procedure for considering the cases of prisoners serving a sentence of imprisonment for life. The policy was considered by this Court in an order dated May 4, 2021”, the bench said. It noted that the policy of 2018 has since been amended on July 28, 2021.  

“The issue in the present proceedings is whether the cases of those prisoners which were required to be considered but were not considered during the term of the earlier policy of August 1, 2018, would yet be governed only by the new policy of July 28, 2021”, the bench said in its order.

During the hearing, senior advocate Garima Prasad, appearing for the UP government, said that cases of these prisoners were not considered as they had not applied for premature release as required under the 2018 policy of the State government framed under 161 of the Constitution.

She said that some amendments were brought in 2021 to the policy under which they do not need to apply and everyone who has touched 60 years of age will be considered for premature release.

Prasad told the bench that under the 2018 policy only on specific dates of the year like January 26, August 15, or October 2, convicts were considered for premature release after the prisoners applied under the policy. She said, after the amendments every 15th day of the month, they will be considered for premature release and now it has become a continuous process.  

Advocate Rishi Malhotra, appearing for the convicts, said that one of the convicts is 87-years-old and these are the people whose names were not considered under the 2018 policy. He said that a similar issue had come up before another bench of the top court and interim bail was granted by it.  

Malhotra, relying on earlier orders of the court, said that it was directed that the State government would consider the cases for premature release, but clauses 2(b) and 2(f) of the amended Policy dated 28 July 2021, shall not be taken into account by the State.

The bench said it will pass orders on the plea on December 17 after perusing the State government’s affidavit to be filed in two weeks on the issue of applicability of retrospective of the 2018 policy and noted that the court will not go into individual cases.

It said, “At this stage, we clarify that the Court will not be going into the individual facts of the large number of prisoners, who have been impleaded as parties to these proceedings since ultimately, the case of each individual prisoner would have to be considered by the appropriate authority in accordance with law”. 

-With PTI Inputs

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