Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prisoners’ release subject to conditions: HC

Prisoners’ release subject to conditions: High Court

Special Correspondent


Swamy files PIL plea against G.O. on granting remission

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Sunday ordered that 1,405 prisoners who are to be released on Monday on the occasion of the birth centenary of the former Chief Minister, C.N.Annadurai, be released subject to the conditions which have been imposed in the bond that they have to execute on their premature release. Apart from that there would be a further condition that if ultimately the Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, who has filed a writ petition, succeeds, the order of premature release may be recalled.

In his public interest litigation petition challenging a government order of September 11 granting remission to 1405 life convicts, Dr. Swamy said the Chief Minister had told the media that the government had decided to release life convicts who had completed seven years of imprisonment. This contravened the provisions of sections 433 and 433 A Cr.P.C. which envisaged commutation of sentence of imprisonment of life to a term not exceeding 14 years. Hence, the rule was 14 years; but the government had arbitrarily applied seven years without any reference to legal provisions.

He submitted that the government had not taken necessary steps to obtain the reports from the jail authorities about the convicts. The government had not placed the relevant material before the Governor who granted remission. Without considering the larger interest of society, the government decided to release the convicts on September 15.

The act was illegal and arbitrary and ultra vires of the Constitution. The release of convicts was for political reasons. The government order was liable to be quashed on the ground that no valid and acceptable reasons had been mentioned in the order granting remission to such a large number of convicts.

The Janata Party leader prayed the court to call for the records relating to the government order and quash the same. The interim prayer was to stay the operation of the order.

Dr. Swamy filed the petition before the Chief Justice, A.K.Ganguly, in his chamber on Sunday. The Chief Justice posted the hearing for the evening at his residence.

In the order, the First Bench comprising the Chief Justice and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, said the Advocate-General, G. Masilamani, assured the court that by virtue of the conditions specified in the bond, the prisoners who are to be released would have to present themselves before the appropriate Probation Officers and the State will ensure that these conditions are regularly adhered to.

The Bench directed the State government to file its affidavit by October 14. Dr. Swamy submitted that he would file his reply by October 21. The Bench said the matter may come up for hearing before a Division Bench presided over by Justice Prabha Sridevan on October 30.

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Also read the related stories

TN Press Release No.748 regarding the release of Prisoners

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