December 28, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh/ Punjab (December 27, 2013): According to news report published in The Tribune (27 Dec. Edn.) [t]he Punjab Government is mulling the premature release of 145 convicts undergoing life term in jails across the state. The case files are being cleared at a fast pace and the release orders are expected by December 31. The cases are being dealt at various levels -district magistrate, district police chief and jail department – in the state government, said sources.
“Activist Gurbakash Singh Khalsa has brought the issue of life term convicts, who have completed their sentence, to the fore. He was on indefinite hunger strike seeking the release of six Sikh detainees”, reads the news reported by Sarbjit Dhaliwal.
It says: “[i]n all, cases of 208 convicts were taken up for premature release, said sources. However, only 145 conformed to the state government’s new policy that was notified in April this year. As many as 58 cases were rejected. There are five prisoners convicted under TADA, but only three of them have completed 14 years of jail term.
They would be eligible for release only after completing 18 years of sentence as there is no provision of remission in jail term for those convicted under TADA. Other two, one of them a woman from Jammu, have completed 10-11 years of their sentence”.
According to The Tribune [s]ources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had recently sought a detailed report of such convicts from the authorities concerned.
Punjab’s new policy for Premature Release:
Superseding all its previous policies, the state government had notified a tough new policy on April 4, 2013, for the premature release of those sentenced to life imprisonment. The changes were made after the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case that had triggered a huge outrage in the country.
No Premature Release for rape and NDPS Act convicts:
Under the new policy, there is a provision not to order premature release of those convicted in rape cases and the NDPS Act. The policy gives the state government power to deny premature release to any convict.
Premature Release under Article 161:
Under the policy, the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution has a power to order premature release even of those convicts, whose sentence is commuted to life sentence from death sentence. In such cases, the convicts, who have completed 14 years in jail, after deducting 6 years of remission, can apply for premature release through the government and the Governor can allow it.
In murder cases, those who have completed actual jail term of 10 years, after remission of 4 years in the sentence, can seek premature release and the Governor can allow it.
Premature Release U/S 432 and 433 Cr. P. C.:
The policy also empowers the Chief Minister to order premature release under Section 432 and 433 of the CrPC. However, he can recommend the premature release to the Governor only in cases where convicts have undergone actual imprisonment for 14 years in murder case and in non-murder cases, where there is a provision of life imprisonment, for 10 years.
Issue of Premature Release u/TADA Act:
For those undergoing life imprisonment under TADA, official sources said, the Central Government appears to be the appropriate authority to order the premature release. Official sources said there was a word appropriate authority in the Cr. P. C. and in such cases the appropriate authority is the Centre like other acts such as Customs, Foreign Exchange. “As there is an element of doubt in this regard, the matter was being discussed with legal experts”, said the official.
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