The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Haryana Government to formulate a policy on premature release of convicts serving life sentences within three months.
The HC bench of justice Gurvinder Singh Gill said till the time such a policy is finalised, the governor can consider release of convicts under Article 161 of Constitution of India (under which governor deals with cases of premature release) taking facts of each case into account. The state government too can consider cases of premature release under 2008 policy under Sections 432 and 433 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which empower it to deal with such cases.
The court found that the 2008 notification was issued in the name of governor, but the guidelines were framed with provisions under which the state is empowered to order premature release of life convicts. Due to this, there were guidelines for examining such cases by the state, not the governor. “Policies can be a fine tool for reducing perceptions of arbitrary treatment among identically situated persons so as to help keep the system fair and unbiased,” the bench observed ordering the formulation of fresh guidelines.
The order came on the plea of one Raj Kumar convicted in a murder case by a Gurugram court in 2010. He had argued that the authorities were not processing his case for premature release on the premise that the 2008 policy made him ineligible, while his case is to be considered as per the 2002 policy. The 2002 policy makes a convict eligible for premature release after 10 years, and 2008 policy after 14 years.
The court observed that the anomaly is going to show its effect all the more now (2020) as the cases of the persons convicted in 2008 and onwards would come in the consideration zone as they would have completed about 10 years of actual confinement.